Foundry Unwraps 'Mucho Grande'
Bobby Johnson, president and CEO of the company, previewed the announcement last week during the company’s earnings call but gave no details.
Mucho Grande is not a single product. Rather, it’s a suite of products based on a new architecture and chipset. According to Foundry, Mucho Grande increases throughput, density, and footprint on existing 10-Gbit/s systems and has the capacity to support 40 Gbit/s per line card. The first two products in the new family, BigIron MG8 and NetIron 40G, will be showcased here this week.
Foundry’s Johnson stressed the new design in his talk last week. “This is a revolution and not just an evolution," he said. The company's been selling 10-Gbit/s line cards for its BigIron 4000, 8000, and 15000 switches for the past 18 months (see Foundry Intros Next-Gen 10-Gig Ethernet ). But those boxes have been able to support just 8 Gbit/s of throughput per slot via the existing switching backplane. While that speed's been sufficient for most customer needs, Foundry says, the latest suite of products run at full 10-Gbit/s line rates and open the way for the next leap in bandwidth -- to 40 Gbit/s.
Foundry claims the new Mucho Grande chipset is not only faster, but it's more functional, allowing for denser line cards and a more compact chassis. A single unit fits into one third of a seven-foot telecom rack.
Both the BigIron MG8 and the NetIron 40G are eight-slot chassis that provide 32 ports of 10 Gbit/s per box for 96 ports of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet per rack. Each box has a routing capacity of 640 Gbit/s or 1.28 Tbit/s full-duplex switching capacity.
The BigIron MG8 is specifically designed to be used for enterprise applications to offer high performance grid computing, enterprise Gigabit Ethernet aggregation, and network attached storage. It will be released this summer.
The NetIron 40G is an Internet router designed for service provider metro networks. It can be used in scaleable Layer 2 networks and to provide peering services for Internet exchanges. It will be available in the third quarter and competes primarily with the 7600 edge router from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and the ST200 router from Laurel Networks Inc., which recently was enhanced with 10-Gbit/s Ethernet interfaces (see Laurel Targets 10-Gig at the Edge).
The closest competitor to the Mucho Grande architecture in terms of performance and density appears to be Force10 Networks Inc. That vendor's E1200 platform offers 1.2 Tbit/s per box full duplex and supports 28 10-Gbit/s interfaces. In comparison, the Catalyst 6500 from Cisco, which was recently enhanced with denser and higher performing 10-Gbit/s Ethernet modules and reduced per port pricing (see Cisco Takes On 10 GigE Competition), supports 720 Gbit/s of capacity with 16 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports per box. Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN), which also recently announced a new platform, supports 320 Gbit/s and 16 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports per device (see Riverstone Fuels 10GigE Price War).
Foundry seems intent on emphasizing performance and future-proofing as key differentiators, particularly against Cisco. “Foundry isn’t competing on price with this announcement,” says Rachna Ahlawat, principal analyst with Gartner/Dataquest. “This is the next generation of product... Customers want to know what is on the road map going forward. These new platforms may not be needed now, but they are the starting point.”
But Foundry isn't alone in focusing on performance, and it faces a formidable roster of competitors who are also picking their spots as high-speed Ethernet switching heats up. Enterasys Networks Inc. (NYSE: ETS) and Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) are expected to make announcements later this year (see Enterasys Taps Tenor Assets ). Extreme also is believed to be working on an entirely new platform that will be able to handle 40 Gbit/s of Ethernet switching per slot (see Extreme Hatches Switch Surprises).
While Foundry's pricing may be a bit higher than some of its competitors, it’s still in the ballpark. The 10-Gbit/s Ethernet four-port line card for the BigIron MG8 has a per-port list price of $21,250, which includes 1310 nanometer Xenpak optics. The NetIron 40G, which also offers four-port line cards, lists for $28,750 per port with the 1310nm Xenpack optics included.
Foundry also has drastically reduced pricing on its existing 10-Gbit/s products. The one-port card lists for $14,995 per port without any optics; a one-port module with Xenpak optics lists for $25,000 per port; and the four-port module with Xenpak optics lists for about $10,000 per port.
— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading