10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet

In the last couple of weeks, two performance tests for 10-Gigabit Ethernet have been canceled due to a lack of vendor interest.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) finally ratified the 802.3 specification for the technology on June 13, 2002. And even though several companies claim to have 10-Gbit/s products ready, many are balking at the chance to test their products’ performance. In the past few weeks, a live demonstration at the 10 Gig Inaugural Expo has been canceled, and Meir Communications has called off its 10-Gig Ethernet test. Why aren’t vendors interested?

“No one came right and out and said that they didn’t want to participate because their box couldn’t perform at line rate,” says Mike Bennett, senior network engineer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, which was putting together the 10-Gbit/s demonstration for the Inaugural Expo. “But let’s just say they haven’t been beating down our doors to be included. You can draw your own conclusions.”

OK. We will.

The Inaugural 10 Gig Expo was supposed to get underway next week in Phoenix (see Show to Demo 10-Gig Throughput). Bennett and his team from Berkeley Labs had designed a test bed using two sets of 12 high-end computers to pump traffic through the network at 10 Gbit/s. Some vendors had already signed up to participate, but many at the last minute declined or pulled out. Finally, two weeks ago, the show’s sponsor, Pinnacle Conference Network, was forced to call it off.

Last week, Meir Communications, an independent Gigabit Ethernet testing service, was supposed to begin testing gear for an article that was scheduled to appear in the August edition of Business Communications Review. Once again, a lack of vendor interest killed plans for that test. Sources say that BCR is still expected to run a story, but instead of testing all the 10-Gbit/s players, it is simply asking vendors to fill out a survey of their capabilities.

There are several switch companies already shipping, or at least beta testing, 10-Gbit/s Ethernet products. Many of them participated in the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Alliance (10GEA) interoperability demonstration last month at Network + Interop in Las Vegas (see Vendors Show Off 10-GigE at N+I). These included switch vendors like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Enterasys Networks Inc. (NYSE: ETS), Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), Force10 Networks Inc., Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN), which has not yet shipped its 10-Gbit/s product, did not participate in the N+I demo.

Some of these companies, like Foundry and Force10, agreed to participate in the 10 Gig Inaugural Expo demonstration. But many, like Cisco and Riverstone, declined. As for the BCR test, Meir Communications would not reveal which vendors declined to be tested. Force10 says it is still willing to have its gear tested by both testing houses; it will be used in a demonstration staged at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab facility later this month. Cisco says it plans to provide BCR with the necessary specification information for the August story.

“The reason we decided not to participate is basically a resource issue,” wrote Larry Yu, Cisco spokesperson, in an email to Light Reading. “We had to choose between an upcoming third-party 10GigE interoperability test at the end of the month and this. We chose to participate in the interoperability test.”

Cisco is planning to participate in an interoperability test run by the Tolly Group.

It seems clear from the choice of tests that vendors are more comfortable in an interoperability demonstration than in a performance test. And who can blame them? According to Bennett, who is familiar with most of the products available today, Force10 Networks is the only company that even comes close to achieving 10-Gbit/s line-rate throughput (see Force10 Shows Off 10-GigE Switch). He says the startup’s switch typically achieves forwarding throughput between 9.0 Gbit/s and 9.5 Gbit/s, depending on packet size.

“It is somewhat misleading to customers, because if you say it is a 10-Gbit/s product then I expect it to forward at line rate,” says Bennett.

Then, of course, there's the issue of customers. Despite the hype surrounding 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, the fact is that most service providers aren’t ready to offer it. Tier 1 service providers in the U.S. aren’t expected to deploy 10 Gbit/s for at least 12 to 18 months, according to Mark Sue, an analyst with Frost Securities Inc. Large interexchange carriers like WorldCom Inc. (Nasdaq: WCOM) and RBOCs like SBC Communications Inc. are just now rolling out Ethernet services (see WorldCom Unveils Metro Ethernet). Meanwhile, Ethernet service providers like Yipes Communications Inc. and Sigma Networks are filing for bankruptcy protection and selling off assets (see Another Metro Provider Fails: Was Vendor Financing the Difference?) and Yipes Joins Chapter 11 Club).

While large carriers typically adopt new technologies at a slower rate than new players, 10 Gbit/s may also be cost prohibitive right now. Initially, 10-Gbit/s Ethernet will be expensive, with per-port costs as high as $80,000. And as T1 costs drop from $1,000 per month to $750 per month, there is little incentive for customers to switch their service to Ethernet.

But analysts expect prices to drop drastically over the next few years, just as 100-Mbit/s Ethernet and 1-Gbit/s Ethernet did. According to IDC, 10-Gig's prices will decline to $7,800 per port by 2005.

After the pain of the initial investment wears off, the technology will likely take off, says Mark Sue of Frost Securities in a research note he published yesterday. He says that with Sonet OC192c interfaces priced at around $300,000, 10 GigE is already a bargain. But many people disagree. They say that Sonet OC192c port prices have also dropped and are now under $100,000.

The true sweet spot for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, at least in the near term, seems to be in the enterprise. One of the biggest drivers in this market is the sharp decline in pricing of 1000base-T Ethernet interfaces. These network cards are selling for as low as $50 a piece. And with 1000base-T Ethernet running within enterprise networks, 10-Gbit/s Ethernet switches will become necessary for traffic aggregation. Bennett says he also sees supercomputing as another potential market segment.

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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stuartb 12/4/2012 | 10:14:43 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet "What are you smoking, Stu?"

I'm smoking some primo stuff man, it's called reality, and I think you need a hit. In fact, take another.

There's not a single carrier out there who will choose to use Ethernet as their transport technology in the near future. SONET is less expensive, more reliable and provides bandwidth guarantees.

CRC_Check 12/4/2012 | 10:14:42 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet ""Is the jitter spec difference making a signficant difference in the overall cost of the port? ""

My view is that in the SONET world you really have GR253 transport at 15xx nm and GR253 access and CO interconnect at 13xx nm.

Good jitter specs were originally needed for transport with all those long spans of non reclocking repeaters. Today good jitter specs are needed for LH DWDM transport for all those high power non reclocking optical repeaters.

In the access and interconnect case at 13xx nm I can't really see the point of keeping such stringent specs, and most datacom and LAN gear is really just GR253 compatible meeting a subset of the specs. 13xx nm won't interoperate directly with 15xx DWDM optical amps and I don't think anybody still really runs 15 spans of nonregenerated SONET with the kinds of long reach technology we have today.

So where does this leave 10Ge? In the WAN case, my view is if it has 15xx nm or DWDM laser its a carrier transport port and it better measure up.
For the LAN case or for 13xx nm SR or IR, there full jitter conformance is probably a waste of money when you look at practical the network topology that results.

my 2 cents.
Marguerite Reardon 12/4/2012 | 10:14:41 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet The story has been updated to reflect some of this new information. Please check it out. I appreciate your feedback.
GW Pearson 12/4/2012 | 10:14:40 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet The whole point of making the 10GigE PHY standard was so that SONET/SDH and 10GigE would be compatible. Thus, you can have both running on the same network. I don't think it's an either or question for carriers. You'd like to be able to carry both to serve the broadest customer base possible. It's not a religious issue.
clownhammer 12/4/2012 | 10:14:40 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet "There is no inherent reason that 10G ethernet is/or will be cheaper than Sonet. The optics are the same and after that it's just one silicon chip versus another silicon chip of roughly the same size and complexity."

Heh, you believe the chips are nearly identical? We are talking an asynchronous vs a synchronous interface with completely different precision requirements for things such as jitter. Go look up the 10GE WAN PHY spec and see if you can figure out why it was created. Ill give you a hint, it has to do with economical reasons. Your post proves that you are a fool. Please refrain from blasting these message boards with your incompetent babblings if you are simply a spectator to this sport.

You have been clownstamped.
analogworm 12/4/2012 | 10:14:40 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet Hey,
Sonet: Category II jitter
Jitter generation no greater than 0.1 UIp-p in 50kHz to 80MHz band
Jitter tolerance: it's an input jitter vs. frequency plot where the device should tolerate large jitter at low frequencies (15 UIpp between 10 and 2000 Hz) and low jitter at high frequencies (0.15 UIp-p above 4 MHz).
[A UI is a unit interval or 1 bit time]
Jitter Transfer: Transfer no more than 0.1 dB of the input jitter to output jitter from 120 kHz and down in frequency.

10 Gig Ethernet is just different. One must construct the "stressed eye" test, where the effect of jitter is incorporated into "stressed eye." In a sense 10 Gigabit Ethernet lumps receiver sensitivity tests and jitter tolerance together and adds a dash of offset modulation.
Jitter generation is comparatively measured with the "Transmitter and Dispersion Penalty Test." First, one forms the stressed eye with a very good reference Tx and rams it into a reference receiver. Then one takes the DUT, connects 10 km of fiber, and rams that signal into the reference receiver at different attenuation settings. The comparison of those two sensitivity results is the "Transmitter and Dispersion Penalty" which in a sense tests jitter generation.

ntwkeng 12/4/2012 | 10:14:39 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet I would never compare the 15454 and the Foundry BigIron. They are completely different products.

The 15454 is an optical transport and SONET grooming device for large enterprise and service provider networks.

The Foundry BigIron is a chassis-based modular Ethernet switch for campus LAN deployments.

The Foundry delivers 8gb/s per slot (yet somehow has a true 10GbE???)

Okay- funny story. At the N+I show this year Foundry was showing offits 10GbE at 'wire rate' IT had all the traffic from its IXIA going into and BACK OUT OF THE SAME INTERFACE. So its local switching capability is good, but once you carry it across the backplane you will experience loss because of the oversubscription.

If you wanted to compare products of a like flavor between Cisco and Foundry I would use Cisco's Catalyst series of LAN switches against Foundry's BigIron/NetIron/FAstIron offerings.
tasmanian 12/4/2012 | 10:14:39 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet "SONET is less expensive, more reliable and provides bandwidth guarantees."

OK, Stu. You're on the idiot stick again.

Since you're probably not an engineer or smart enough to interpret an IEEE spec, your next exercise in idiocy is to simply research the COSTS of 10GE and OC-192 modules... not ports... modules. While you're at it, check out costs of OC-48, OC-12 and 1GE modules (fiber and copper, different reaches).

Then come back to this forum and post your findings.
Iipoed 12/4/2012 | 10:14:38 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet Yeah is does make sense to buy cisco LAN switches for one fifth the throughput, old bus, blocking architecture. But they do stress no forklift upgrade. Try any of Cisco new modules into a one year old Cat 6500, yeah they plug in but to get them to work requires new power supplies and new supervisor modules and still you get 1/3 the performance. Remember Cisco count packet throughput going in and going out as two packets. Foundry only countes one packet and even with Cisco's crazy math they come out less than 1/2 the through put performance.

The only Cisco product that comes close to Foundry's BigIron and NetIron products is the GSR12000 which is 3x the size and 3x as expensive and still on delivers48 gig of throughput versus 96 in the Foundry 8000.

As to 8gig per module this is true. BigIron/NetIron provide an 8 gig connection to the backplane but on all their chassis products which are up to 4 years old. Plug a 10 Gig module into a Cat 6500 and if you are lucky you might see 3 gig. On a 12000 maybe 6 gig.

This information you can get from Foundry's web site.
skeptic 12/4/2012 | 10:14:38 PM
re: 10-GigE Vendors Get Cold Feet Since you're probably not an engineer or smart enough to interpret an IEEE spec, your next exercise in idiocy is to simply research the COSTS of 10GE and OC-192 modules... not ports... modules.

And if your going to look at costs, look at the
overall vendor cost (not price) to deliver the
port at 10GE from the backplane to the outside
fiber. Thats the number that matters.

The differences between 10GE and OC-192 are
not as significant as you think.
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