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Foundry extends 10G to the edge

Mar 15, 20043 mins

Foundry offers 10G switch for wiring closets

Foundry Networks this week is scheduled to announce 10G Ethernet switches that could help companies eliminate bottlenecks between the LAN core and edge, the vendor says.

Foundry’s FastIron Edge Switch (FES) X-Series switches are fixed-configuration wiring closet boxes aimed at helping customers support high-bandwidth applications to desktops. Each box also features dual 10G Ethernet uplink slots, which could be used to connect the switches directly to a core switch and eliminate the need for a network aggregation or distribution layer of switches, Foundry says.

The FES X424 and X448 are 24- and 48-port switches, respectively, with all-copper ports that support 10/100/1000M bit/sec Ethernet. Two slots are included on the front of the boxes for 10G Ethernet optical port inserts.

The 10G ports on both FES X-Series switches use a new type of pluggable fiber-optic transceiver called 10 Gigabit Small Form Factor Pluggable – XFP for short. These transceivers are about half the size of the standard 10G Ethernet Transceiver Package (XENPAK) pluggable modules used on most 10G gear. They also consume less power and cost less than XENPAK ports, Foundry says.

Both switches include four Small Form Factor Pluggable fiber-optic ports, which can accept multi-mode or single-mode Gigabit Ethernet over fiber connections.

The Foundry X-Series will compete with Extreme Networks’ Summit 400, a fixed-configuration, 48-port 10/100/1000 switch with dual 10G uplinks, which use XENPAK modules. The 10G ports on Foundry’s X-Series switch, starting at about $7,000, are priced about $1,000 less than the price Extreme announced last month at the Summit 400 launch. Extreme and Foundry are the only enterprise switch vendors to announce fixed-configuration 10G switches so far.

The X-Series switches come with what Foundry calls basic Layer 3 features, which include support for Layer 3 quality-of-service protocols, such as Differentiated Services, and security by filtering or controlling traffic via IP addresses.

A software upgrade can make the box a full routing switch, with support for routing protocols such as Open Shortest Path First. These features would be used if an X-Series switch were deployed as an aggregation box to link other lower-speed wiring closet switches, Foundry says. These features also can be used if the switch is deployed in a data center to connect individual servers or as a server cluster connectivity node.

While some high-end users might be ready to take advantage of the 10G features of the FES X-Series switches, most users probably still will deploy 803.3ad trunking to get logical multiple-Gigabit throughput, such as aggregation switch uplinks, or backbone switch connections, says Chris Kozup, an analyst with Meta Group.

At about $7,000, the 10G Ethernet ports on the X-Series are a positive sign that the technology is becoming more affordable. “It’s a far cry from $80,000 per port, which we saw when [10G Ethernet] was first introduced” in 2002, Kozup says.

The FES X424 will be available next month, starting at $5,500 for 24 10/100/1000 ports. The FES X448, with 48 10/100/1000 ports, is scheduled to be available in June and start at $8,000. Adding a single 10G Ethernet XFP transceiver to either switch will cost an extra $4,500, and an additional $3,000 to $4,000 for the optical XFP plug-in (depending on whether multi- or single-mode fiber is used). A dual-port transceiver also will be available for $6,500. All XFPs and optical plug-ins will be shipped next month. Full Layer 3 routing upgrades for the FES X424 and X448 (available in June) will be priced at $1,500 and $2,000, respectively.