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Managing Editor

Riverstone lowers entry bar for 10G

Apr 07, 20033 mins
Network SwitchesSystem Management

Sub-$10K per-port cost intended to create demand, spur adoption.

SANTA CLARA – Riverstone Networks this week will enter the 10G bit/sec Ethernet market with switches designed to establish a new entry price.

Riverstone’s XGS line of 10G Ethernet switches are priced at just less than $10,000 per port – one-third the cost of competing products and below the average cost of 10 1G bit/sec Ethernet ports, the company says. By pricing the switches at this level, the company hopes to dismantle a significant barrier to 10G Ethernet adoption while creating demand for its products in a frugal market that does not yet require 10G Ethernet capacity, analysts say.

“I don’t think we need 10G at this point; what would you do with it?” asks Michael Kennedy, principal and co-founder of Network Strategy Partners.

Kennedy says it could be used to aggregate 1G bit/sec metropolitan Ethernet services once service providers roll out those offerings.

“But that rollout is very evolutionary so there’s probably not a lot of demand for 10G bit/sec capacity,” he says.

Riverstone’s XGS line consists of two switches: the XGS 9016 and the XGS 9008. The 9016 is a half-rack, 16-slot chassis with 320G bit/sec of switching capacity and 400M packet/sec of throughput that’s upgradeable to 640G bit/sec and 800M packet/sec with a second fabric.

The 9008 is a quarter-rack, eight-slot system with 160G bit/sec of capacity and 200M packet/sec of throughput, upgradeable to 320G bit/sec and 400M packet/sec with that second fabric. Both switches feature Riverstone’s Hitless Protection System software for resiliency and Multi-protocol Label Switching for traffic engineering, company officials say.

Knology, a service provider in the Southeast, is beta-testing the XGS systems for deployment in a video-on-demand service infrastructure.

“We’re looking at the ability to aggregate high-speed data customers and [video-on-demand] applications over a large pipe,” says Bradley Frye, data services manager at Knology. “What we saw, we liked.”

However, Riverstone’s XGS switches are missing some features Knology needs, such as access control lists and specific ways to configure Layer 3 interfaces with Riverstone’s SmartTrunk link aggregation applications, Frye says.

But Riverstone and other 10G Ethernet suppliers might be facing more daunting challenges, even at $10,000 per port.

“Will actual buyers see the need for this, or will they basically just continue to buy 1G bit/sec and wait and see on the 10G bit/sec?” Network Strategy Partners’ Kennedy asks.

The 9016 costs $33,000, while the 9008 costs $19,980. Both will be available in June.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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