The switches shown off at VMworld come to life, with software-defined networking on board and some non-Broadcom chips inside

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

September 19, 2012

2 Min Read
Arista's New Hardware Packs SDN

Arista unveiled its newest switch family Wednesday, adding some nods to software-defined networking (SDN).

The new 7150 series supports the idea of reprogramming the forwarding rules in software -- allowing for protocols such as OpenFlow to issue commands to the switch. It supports OpenFlow 1.0 so far, with OpenFlow 1.2 support in the works. (OpenFlow 1.1 is generally considered a miscue and will be skipped by most equipment vendors.)

It's also got hardware support for virtual extensible LANs (VXLANs), the VMware-supported technology for creating Layer 3 tunnels between virtual machines. Arista actually demonstrated this on the 7150 in August at VMworld, as Light Reading noted previously.

The VXLAN feature is running not on the Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) chips that Arista has been using, but on switching chips from Fulcrum Microsystems, recently acquired by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC).

The 7150 boxes are top-of-rack switches, 1 rack unit tall; the highest-end model offers 64 10Gbit/s Ethernet ports. The latency through the switch is 350 nanoseconds, Arista officials say.

The switches are already shipping in production.

Why this matters
Quite a few new switches are targeting the SDN-enabled data center, evidence that SDN isn't going to turn the systems into a commodity. (At least, not right away.) "The network is going to have to evolve" in order for data-center owners to get the returns they expect from virtualization, analyst Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research said Monday, during an Arista press-and-analysts briefing.

Last week, Brocade announced a chassis-based switch targeting the new data center core. Cisco is likewise preparing a new switch with massive 10Gbit/s Ethernet scale in mind and possibly an integrated controller. And you did hear about the Huawei router that was also announced Wednesday, right?

Then again, Intel, at its developer forum last week, announced an SDN platform: Fulcrum switch chips, Xeon processors, software from Wind River Systems Inc. (well, a Linux kernel anyway). It could be the ideal kit for making a commodity SDN-enabled switch, Brian Marshall of ISI Group Inc. noted in a brief report Monday.

For more

  • Huawei Boasts SDN-Enabled Router

  • Cisco Preps 'Arista Killer'

  • Brocade Boasts Bigger 10GE

  • Juniper Veteran Departs for SDN Startup

See also: The Heavy Reading Components Insider report, "Integrated Switch Chips: Delivering Terabit Performance," which includes the Broadcom and Intel chips.

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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