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Brocade rolls out 100G Ethernet at $100K per port

First vendor to disclose pricing for next-gen technology

By , Network World
September 15, 2010 07:49 AM ET

Network World - Brocade this week entered the 100Gbps Ethernet arena with a high-density router and module for service providers and data centers, as well as a management application for converged infrastructures.

As expected, Brocade unveiled the 32-port MLXe router chassis, which has at least twice the 100G Ethernet density of Internet core routers from Cisco and Juniper. Brocade also rolled out a two-port 100G Ethernet module for the MLX line at less than $100,000 per port, and the Brocade Network Advisor application for managing IP, storage, MPLS, application delivery and wireless elements in converged service provider and data center networks.

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Brocade claims the 100G Ethernet module is 1/8 the per port cost of other 100G Ethernet router interfaces on or about to hit the market.

The products are key for Brocade in maintaining its reputation as a price/performance innovator on Ethernet and IP. There have been some hiccups in this market for the company since it acquired Foundry Networks in 2008. Sales in recent quarters have dipped while competitors have grown, and Brocade acknowledged mismanagement in its channel strategy for Ethernet/IP in its first fiscal quarter.

"It's an important announcement for Brocade," says Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group. "There's been some discussion on whether they've fallen behind, and many other vendors that announced 100G ahead of them released none of the details around it. The fact that they've got pricing … put them in a stronger position than some of the companies that haven't released any details."

In addition to Cisco and Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent announced 100G Ethernet interfaces for its 7750 services edge router. Extreme Networks announced 40Gbps Ethernet -- which is based on the same IEEE standard as 100G -- modules for its BlackDiamond switches at $1,000 per port.

The MLXe features a 15.36Tbps backplane and 480Gbps half-slot capacity, both double the previous generation MLX routers from Brocade. Forwarding performance is 4.8 billion packet/sec for IPv6. All 32 100G Ethernet ports are wire-speed, the company says, as are 256 10G ports and 1,536 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Up to 64 10G Ethernet ports can be grouped together to form a virtual 640Gbps trunk, Brocade says. This is also double the number of link aggregation groups supported in previous generation MLX routers.

The MLXe is available in 4-, 8-, 16- and 32-slot chassis configurations. Two of the chassis can be connected via active 100G Ethernet links for node failover, Brocade says.

For data center applications, Brocade says the MLXe offers five time the IPv6 forwarding performance of Cisco's Nexus 7000 switch, and twice fabric capacity and wire-speed Gigabit Ethernet density of the Cisco product. As a result, Brocade says fewer MLXe elements need to be deployed in a data center, which can reduce cost and operational complexity, and increase uptime.

The two wire-speed port 100G Ethernet module is compliant with the recently ratified IEEE 802.3ba standard, Brocade says. In addition to the new MLXe chassis, it can also run in Brocade's previous generation MLX and XMR chassis.

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