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Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

HP ProCurve

Opinion
Apr 27, 20043 mins
Network SwitchesNetworking

* The Reviewmeister takes a look at HP's latest Gigabit Ethernet switches

HP’s latest Gigabit Ethernet switches – the ProCurve 2824 and the 2848 models – offer a $100 per gigabit port price, but the trade-off is less than perfect performance.

These models sport 24 and 48 copper 10/100/1000Base-T ports, respectively, as well as a typical set of Layer 2 features and limited Layer 3 routing functionality. Each model is housed in single, rack-mountable units with Ethernet ports accessible from the front panel.

The Layer 2 features of these boxes include 802.1Q virtual LAN (VLAN) support, 802.1p packet prioritization and 802.1ad link aggregation. Our tests found that all the Layer 2 features worked well. In particular, the link aggregation tests proved that the switches can bundle several Ethernet links into a logical link for increased bandwidth and fault tolerance between switches.

The limited Layer 3 forwarding could be helpful in tying multiple VLANs to a routed network via a default IP route. For example, the switch can be configured to route between a maximum of eight VLANs. You can configure a total of 16 routes plus one default route. However, there is no support for any dynamic routing protocols such as Routing Internet Protocol or Open Shortest Path First.

In our performance tests, there was a small amount of packet loss. For example, the Layer 2 packet loss tests on the ProCurve 2848 showed zero loss for all packet sizes with less than 70% of the maximum load. Above this load threshold, packet loss increased until it hit a loss of 11.22% with 1,518-byte packets at 100% load.

The 2824 Layer 3 packet-loss test showed a small amount of loss at maximum load. The packet loss increased with packet size: The largest loss was 0.9% loss with 1,518-byte packets at maximum load. The 2824 Layer 2 packet-loss test revealed similar results.

The latency results – 9 microsec or less for 64-byte packets at high loads – for Layer 2 and Layer 3 tests show an acceptable latency level.

Both switches can prioritize traffic by Ethernet 802.1p values. Each port has four output queues with configurable mapping to 802.1p values.

These switches offer a menu-driven (only used to initially configure the switch) and command-line interface (CLI) available through the console port or a configured management VLAN via telnet for overall management control.

The CLI has a similar look as Cisco’s CLI, although HP has simplified it somewhat. For example, you don’t have to exit the configuration mode to run other commands within the CLI.

HP also offers a Web-based configuration interface. One 2800 switch can act as a master administrative interface for up to 15 other switches. This interface is nicely laid out and offers configuration hints when you’re bringing up the switch for the first time.

Overall, these switches could be a decent fit at the access layer if you want to aggregate lots of high-speed desktops.