100G Ethernet

100Gbit/s Ethernet Router Test: ZTE

As Light Reading regularly points out, fixed and mobile packet networks worldwide are experiencing increases in traffic, driven by video applications, mobile data and business services. (See Planning for 100G & Beyond.)

Carriers, application service providers and content distributors have been waiting for higher-speed packet interfaces to become available in order to increase the limits that have been reached both in terms of router interfaces and router-attached bit-rate per fiber pair. As more and more vendors are beginning to deploy the first generation of 100Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE) interfaces for their flagship routers, European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) and Light Reading have set up a public test program aimed to provide operators with an unbiased, empirical view of these new interfaces. In this open test program, EANTC is validating the performance, service scalability and power efficiency of 100GbE router interfaces.

Deployment tidbits were reaching the news just as we sat down with several service providers and asked them for a list of concerns regarding these new, currently cost-intensive, interfaces. (See Verizon Deploys 100G Ethernet in Europe.) We were not surprised to hear that performance for IPv4, IPv6 and multicast was high on the agenda -- new high-speed interfaces often mean new chips and new chips could always have a few forwarding problems. But where service providers focus more these days than ever before are Virtual Private Network (VPN) services scalability and power efficiency: Having a bunch of super-fast interfaces in the backbone is going to boost the provider’s operations only when revenue-generating services are supported using these new interfaces. Keeping the power consumption down has also become a mandatory requirement as power accounts for 25 percent of all operational cost in some networks.

We took this set of requirements and created a test plan that we intended to apply to all vendors participating in the program. Vendors also had the opportunity to define two of their own tests in addition, at our approval.

Together with Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA), our tester vendor of choice for this program, we prepared the test equipment for the scale and breadth of our testing, and then executed the tests at each vendor’s lab. The results will be presented in a series of articles right here on Light Reading -- one for each vendor that goes through the tests. As you'll see in this first test in our series, ZTE's core router is as fast as any other on the market, and our test proved it to be reliable and scalable as well.

Test Contents

The European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC) is an independent test lab founded in 1991 and based in Berlin, conducting vendor-neutral proof of concept and acceptance tests for service providers, governments and large enterprises. EANTC has been testing MPLS routers, measuring performance and interoperability, for nearly a decade at the request of industry publications and service providers.

EANTC’s role in this program was to define the test topics in detail, communicate with the vendors, coordinate with the test equipment vendor (Ixia) and conduct the tests at the vendors’ locations. EANTC engineered, then extensively documented the results. Vendors participating in the campaign had to submit their products to a rigorous test in a controlled environment contractually defined. For this independent test, EANTC exclusively reported to Light Reading. The vendors participating in the test did not review the individual reports before their release. Each vendor had a right to veto publication of the test results as a whole, but not to veto individual test cases.

— Carsten Rossenhövel is Managing Director of the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) , an independent test lab in Berlin. EANTC offers vendor-neutral network test services for manufacturers, service providers, governments and large enterprises. Carsten heads EANTC's manufacturer testing and certification group and interoperability test events. He has over 20 years of experience in data networks and testing.

Jonathan Morin, EANTC, managed the project, worked with vendors and co-authored the article.

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