• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry


Feb 04, 20032 mins

* The Reviewmeister takes a look at Force10's E1200 switch

The Reviewmeister is big into speed. So when the first batch of standards-compliant 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches came out, we had to get our hands on them.

We found, however, that only one switch delivers true 10 Gigabit performance – Force10’s E1200 switch.

In our performance testing, we used three frame sizes: 64-byte frames, because they’re the shortest allowed in Ethernet, and as such offer the most stressful test case; 256-byte frames, because they’re close to the median frame length of around 300 bytes as observed on various Internet links; and 1,518 bytes, the maximum allowed in Ethernet and the size used in bulk data transfers.

Only one switch – Force10’s E1200 – actually delivered true line-rate throughput. Impressively, the E1200 moved traffic at line rate with short, medium and long frames. In all our baseline tests, the E1200 did not drop a single frame.

When it came to delay, Force10’s results weren’t so great. There’s no good reason why a 10 Gigabit device should hang on to a frame for 30 to 50 microsec. But Force10’s E1200 added 31.9 microsec when handling 64-byte frames.

Force10 says the software it supplied for testing was optimized to produce the lowest delays under heavy loads. The vendor says currently shipping software, plus a configuration change to the switch fabric’s scheduling algorithm (available to users through the device’s command-line interface), will reduce delay by up to 50%.

When we tested traffic running over the 10 Gigabit backbone in a partial-mesh traffic pattern, Force10’s E1200 switch again led the pack, delivering line-rate throughput at all three frame lengths. The vendor’s aggregate throughput approached 30 million frames per second across two chassis with zero frame loss.

Force10’s performance in our failover tests was another area of big improvement over previous assessments in link aggregation.

In previous tests, failover times increased by a factor of 10 when link aggregation was in use. Not so with Force10’s E1200. In this test, cutover time improved when Force10 enabled link aggregation, going from 474 millisec without link aggregation to 384 millisec with it.

In our quality-of-service testing, if coming closest to meeting the rules for all traffic classes matters most, then Force10’s E1200 wins this event. Though it did drop small amounts of high-priority traffic, the E1200 did the best job of the desired rates for all three traffic classes.

For the full report, to go :