Cable Tech

Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War

Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN) challenged Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) to a 10-Gbit/s Ethernet pricing war today with the announcement of its new 10-Gbit/s XGS switching platform that it claims takes the lead in both price and performance.

Cisco just announced its 10-Gbit/s Ethernet solution, enhancements to its Catalyst 6500, last week (see Cisco Takes On 10 GigE Competition). At the time, Cisco said it was the best the industry had seen in terms of price and performance. Now, Riverstone is upping the ante.

Riverstone claims that its XGS can provide true line-rate packet forwarding at 10 Gbit/s for roughly $10,000 per port. Cisco claims an even lower price per port -- about $6,300 -- but that's with a catch. Cisco admits that the four-port module used to get this pricing doesn’t perform at line rate. Its two-port module, which does perform at line rate, costs about $23,800 per port.

Essentially, both Cisco and Riverstone recognize that there are two distinct markets for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet technology. There are the high-end users such as research facilities and metro providers that need full 10-Gig line-rate performance. Then there are the enterprise customers that would like to take advantage of cheap 1-Gbit/s Ethernet to the desktop. As that rolls out, these customers will need a 10-Gbit/s switch to aggregate that traffic.

“In an over-subscribed wiring closet there’s no way we are going to get people to move away from their Catalyst 6500s,” says Steven Garrison, director of marketing for Riverstone. “We are okay with that. We’re going after the high-end market, where folks need wire-rate performance.” Table 1: 10-Gbit/s Ethernet Per Port Pricing
Line Card Density Cisco Extreme Force10 Foundry Riverstone
1-port 10 GigE $58,200 $24,250 Not available $38,500 $9,995
2-port 10 GigE $23,800 Not announced $17,000 $26,950 Not announced
4-port 10 GigE $6,300 Not announced Not announced Not announced Not announced
  • Prices are discounted 30% from list price.
  • Prices include 1310 nm optics.

  • Compared to the competition, Cisco’s $23,800 a port still sounds impressive. As you can see from the chart above, Cisco is in line with competitors, Force10 Networks Inc. and Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), the only other two companies offering two-port 10-Gbit/s line cards. Force10, which also claims full line-rate performance, comes in at about $17,000 per port. But it is a startup, and, although the company just closed another round of funding, some customers are a bit chary as to whether it will survive (see Force10 Rakes In $41M ).

    Foundry is priced slightly above Cisco’s two-port module at roughly $26,950 per port (see Foundry Intros Next-Gen 10-Gig Ethernet ). But, like Cisco’s four-port module, Foundry doesn’t perform at line rate. The company is expected to announce its next-generation 10-Gbit/s platform -- code named Mucho Grande -- which is expected to perform at line rate, later this spring. Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) offers a one-port 10-Gbit/s line card for its switches. It too is limited in performance by its architecture. Extreme is also expected to announce a new platform this spring or summer.

    There’s no question that the 10-Gig sector is becoming crowded. But it’s still too early to tell how much the market is actually worth. According to Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with Yankee Group, the total market for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet in 2002 was $120 million. He predicted in a report published last fall that the market would grow to $800 million in 2003 and $4 billion by 2006. But now, he says, these projections have most likely changed.

    “The pricing has fallen a lot quicker than I thought it would,” he says. “I thought per-port pricing would get to about $15,000 by the end of 2003. And now we’re seeing $10,000 per port.”

    The discussion of price and performance for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet is critical. Customers looking for such technology say that is one of their biggest hurdles.

    “Wonderful technology is good, but only if you can afford it,” says Jack Costanza, technology manager for the artificial intelligence lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is testing the Riverstone XGS platform. “We don’t want free or low-cost junk, but pricing is a major part of trying to make the decision.”

    Costanza says MIT hopes to use the Riverstone switches in a production network to run high-end data models and experiments. It will also use the gear to provide massive amounts of bandwidth to a LAN serving administrators and students. He evaluated gear from Cisco, Extreme, and Force10, as well. Foundry pulled out of the bidding process early, he says. His team selected Riverstone not just for price, but also for its performance and features.

    The XGS comes in two sizes: XGS 9016 and XGS 9008. The XGS 9016 is a 16-slot chassis that sits in half a 7-foot telecom rack. It has 320 Gbit/s of capacity with a sustained throughput of 400 million packets per second. The company says a second fabric can be added to increase the capacity to 640 Gbit/s and throughput of 800 million pps. The smaller version, XGS 9008, is an eight-slot chassis with 160 Gbit/s worth of capacity and throughput of 200 million pps. This is also upgradeable.

    Aside from price and performance, the XGS platform provides a high level of reliability. It comes equipped with redundant switch fabrics and central processor units. And for the first time on a Riverstone box, the software code is modular. This allows customers to more efficiently troubleshoot problems and load software patches.

    — Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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    pnni-1 12/5/2012 | 12:17:27 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War What is the OPEX cost to keep the XGS up and running?
    Or perhaps that is not important anymore?? You pay now or you pay later... How many times will you have to upgrade the code etc, etc. Riverstone are worse than Cisco about breaking or I mean fixing things in there code releases.
    Iipoed 12/5/2012 | 12:17:22 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War Riverstone selling 10g is like bailing water with a bucket out of a ship that is 95% underwater.
    fabric_man 12/5/2012 | 12:17:19 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War I don't fully understand how the vendor claims of Gbps and pps line up.

    My understanding was that the Inter-Packet Gap in 10GbE (including the true IPG plus other filler) was 14 bytes. Assuming a minimum packet size of 64 bytes then means that true packet arrival rate is 78 bytes:

    pps = 10e9/(78*8) = 16.03 Mpps per 10 Gbps channel

    So, how can 160 Gbps line up with 200 Mpps? And 320 Gbps with 400 Mpps?

    My cynical nature is leading me, reluctantly, to assume that there is some bogus specmanship going on - but of course I know that can't be true :-)

    Seeking enlightenment,
    - fabric_man
    mugwhump 12/5/2012 | 12:17:18 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War Interesting approach to solving the IPG issue.

    Take a look at http://www.force10networks.com...

    Don't know what others are doing (if anything) to try to solve the issue. No mention of it on Riverstones's web site. Maybe they forgot it! ;-)
    rpm 12/5/2012 | 12:17:17 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War The Riverstone 10 GbE line card is 1-port not 2-port and lists for $9995 acording to their web site...

    rpm 12/5/2012 | 12:17:15 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War The price has now been moved to the right row for Riverstone, but there are still price inconsistencies.

    The Riverstone 1-port card is $9,995 list optics included.

    The Cisco 2-port card is $60,000 list +$8K for optics.

    The Cisco 4-port card is $20,000 list +$16k for optics.

    all these prices should be discounted by 30% for consistency with the stated format

    wilecoyote 12/5/2012 | 12:17:12 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War This is actually pretty funny. Riverstone, Extreme, you shouldn't try to play Cisco's market delay games. You don't know how and it's so transparent. Translation: "please 3com, buy me!" I really have a 10G product. No really!"

    Notice Foundry's silence. They're waiting until they have something to show their customers because, guess what? The reason their customers are their customers is because they've seen through the Cisco lies for the last 10 years and have decided to go a different direction. Foundry knows not to play games with customers and their results are showing. Extreme forgot this basic rule so you'll see them continue to flail.

    Cisco's souped up 65K will not see a live network until October. FACT.

    metroshark 12/5/2012 | 12:17:08 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War So, how can 160 Gbps line up with 200 Mpps? And 320 Gbps with 400 Mpps?

    A wire-speed 10GigE port should be able to forward 64B packets at around 15Mpps. A box with 16 10GigE ports needs at least 240Mpps forwarding capacity. It is possible that these new Riverstone boxes have more than 15Mpps forwarding capacity per line card and maybe they are planning to introduce non-wirespeed line cards with higher 10G port count in the future.
    Marguerite Reardon 12/5/2012 | 12:17:07 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War Riverstone is advertising the discounted price in their press release and on their website. The same is true of Force10. Foundry, Cisco and Extreme only talk about list prices, so I discounted those prices 30% to make them more consistent with Riverstone and Force10.
    fiber_r_us 12/5/2012 | 12:17:05 AM
    re: Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War How to calculate PPS for Ethernet:

    Preamble = 8-bytes (7 for sync and 1 start of frame delimiter (SFD))
    Minimum Packet = 64-bytes
    >= 6-byte Source MAC address
    >= 6-byte Destination MAC address
    >= 2-byte Protocol type/length
    >= 48-byte Data (data is padded to a min of 48)
    >= 4-byte CRC
    Inter-Packet Gap = 12-bytes (IPG)

    So, a "64-byte minimum packet" is really 84-bytes of frame. This gives us:

    84-bytes * 8-bits = 672-bits per frame


    10,000,000 bits/sec / 672 = 14,880.952 frames/sec for 10Mbit Ethernet.

    Just multiply by the appropriate factor of 10 for the other Ethernet speeds. So, for 10GE, you get 14,880,952 packets/sec, or about 15M as others have pointed out.

    For maximal sized frames (non-jumbo), the data field is 1500-bytes, so you get a frame of 1538-bytes, or 12,304-bits. Thus,

    10,000,000 / 12,304 = 812.744 frames/second for 10Mb...
    812,744 frames/sec for 10GE.
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