Optical/IP Networks

Cisco Counters Arista's New Switch

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has come out with its lowest-latency switch yet, targeting the financial-trading customers that Arista Networks Inc. has managed to snare.

Cisco's Nexus 3548, announced Wednesday morning, claims latency of 190 nanoseconds through the switch, compared with Arista's 350 nanoseconds. The 3548 is based on application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), in contrast to Arista's strategy of using merchant chips, as Light Reading reported in August.

The 3548 is the switch Cisco was supposedly marketing as an "Arista killer." And it got announced on the same day that Arista unveiled its 350-nanosecond latency switches, the new 7150 series. Gee, what are the odds?

Why this matters
For all the attention it garners, Arista is a small fish in the overall switching market. But anecdotal evidence has the company doing very well in the important financial sector. (We're still looking for market share data that isolates that sector.)

Financial traders are interested in the fastest network connections possible, which has made the low-latency switch an important market for some equipment vendors. (Whether high-frequency trading is a good thing is a matter of opinion.)

It's not just the financial sector; Cisco's release mentions the 3548 being useful for high-performance computing and for big-data settings. But it's the financial sector that really has the money and the urgency to pay for premium switches. It's not a bad place for a switch vendor to be -- and Cisco apparently wants its share of that market back.

For more
Other switch/router announcements happening just today:

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

twill009 12/5/2012 | 5:20:48 PM
re: Cisco Counters Arista's New Switch

Is this shipping anytime soon?  I think Arista claims theirs is available to order now, shipping Q4.

Rush21120 12/5/2012 | 5:20:47 PM
re: Cisco Counters Arista's New Switch

Does it matter when is GA?  Really I think not, its like the ole addage: You never have to out run the bear just your friend.  Well in this case Arista and Cisco are not friends an neither have an issue out running each other.  Good news for traders, bad for the competition.  It will be interesting to see how through put affects latency, unless they have multiple dedicated paths and what the frame size was.   Pricing will also be important.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:20:46 PM
re: Cisco Counters Arista's New Switch

Arista does claim to be shipping now, and Cisco says it ships in November (although a spokeswoman points out the Nexus 3548 is in 10 trials with exchanges and other firms). Although Rush2112's point about the bear is a pretty good one.

RockyMtn_Jack 12/5/2012 | 5:20:43 PM
re: Cisco Counters Arista's New Switch

Big Data applications are actually almost immune from network performance. In testing Hadoop clusters, inter-node traffic only adds up to a few Gb/sec on the backplane - that is bandwidth a workgroup switch from Best Buy could handle.  The reason is that Hadoop was created assuming a poor network so it relies on local data in each node.

Big Data users can gain more from good querries and tools than any investment in the network.

kaka 12/5/2012 | 5:20:42 PM
re: Cisco Counters Arista's New Switch



You require reliable (and possibly low latency) networking for big data. Depending upon the application of big data, there is the initial push of the data to the nodes and then there is the east-west traffic that hadoop induces. Depending upon the replication factor, the data is sent to multiple nodes and you also have to data transfer requirements for the map and reduce operation. So good networking does matter for big data. In fact big data introduces interesting networking challenges.

Sign In