10G Ethernet Switches Pass the Test
Some recent tests show that 10Gbit/s switch chips can handle high-end data center requirements. So, how long might it be before systems vendors stop doing their own ASICs?
Nick Lippis, principal analyst for Lippis Enterprises , thinks that's a valid question. His company is releasing data from a test of seven vendors' 10Gbit/s switches, and the results seem to confirm that merchant semiconductors do just fine in terms of throughput, latency, power consumption and action under duress (that is, working at 150 percent of capacity).
Lippis will be presenting his findings via WebEx on Tuesday, Feb. 1 at noon EDT; here's the link for the event.
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is the vendor that's most famously stuck with its own ASICs, but Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) tend to use their own chips as well. "When those who spin their own ASICs start to see what's being done with merchant chips, we'll have to see whether they'll start to go with the Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) or Fulcrum Microsystems Inc. kinds of fabrics," he tells Light Reading.
Lippis had invited Light Reading for a peek at the tests, which were conducted in December at an Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) facility called iSimCity. Lippis had limited resources available, so some big names such as Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) and Cisco got left out, but the tests still gave an indication of how well this new generation of switches performs. (See Friday Show & Tell: Testing the New Ethernet.)
One unexpected twist in the results is that the U.S.-based companies' switches performed better than the others. For instance, the highest latency, in most test cases, went to the Voltaire Inc. (Nasdaq: VOLT) Vantage 6048.
And while every switch scored 100 percent on Layer 3 throughput tests, the Hitachi Cable Ltd. Apresia 15000-64XL-PSR was the only one to score less than 100 on Layer 2 throughput. It dipped as low as 97.3 percent throughput when dealing with 128-byte frames. Apresia was also the only box to show performance degradation during congestion tests.
Overall, though, Lippis says he was impressed by the switches' performance, especially when it came to power consumption.
Lippis's tests included switches from AlcaLu, Arista Networks Inc. , and Juniper, and top-of-rack switches from Force10 Networks Inc. , Hitachi, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) (with switches from Blade Network Technologies) and Voltaire.
Lippis has a second round of testing planned for the week of April 4. Brocade, which Lippis says was interested in the December test but didn't respond in time, is a likely candidate -- and Lippis isn't shy about saying who else he'd like to include. "I'd love to get Cisco top-of-rack switches in there," he says.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading