Wholesale/transport services

Interop Wrap: Latency Craze

In rounding up some product news at Interop, which is being held this week in Las Vegas, you might think we'd talk all about 100 Gbit/s. There's so much more to life than wire speeds, though. Today's roundup includes talk of low latency, management systems, and smarter chips.

  • But let's start with the high-speed stuff anyway. Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR) is showing off its Summit stackable Ethernet switches with four 40-Gbit/s Ethernet ports, selling at about $4,000. Note that some companies, Force10 Networks Inc. in particular, are at Interop preaching the benefits of using 40 Gbit/s in the data center rather than 100 Gbit/s. (See 100G Watch: 40G Strikes Back.)

    More importantly, Extreme seems to be giving away custom skateboards.

  • Infinera Corp. (Nasdaq: INFN) might lack a publicly disclosed 100-Gbit/s strategy, but it did announce a low-latency strategy last week. (See Infinera Puts 100G Coherent on Pause and Infinera Touts Low Latency.)

    Low latency is a big topic at Interop. Kevin Kennedy, CEO of Avaya Inc. , ex-CEO of JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU), apparently brought it up during his Interop keynote this morning.

    It's a different technological question than sheer interface speed, and the answers can involve some tradeoffs. For example, Infinera can push low latency by using native wavelengths; each Gigabit or 10-Gbit/s Ethernet stream would get its own wavelength. It's less efficient than the normal packing of traffic, but it's appropriate if speed is paramount.

    Infinera also introduced new dispersion compensation technology meant to remove coils of dispersion-compensating fiber from the network. Those coils added length to the fiber that signals had to traverse -- kilometers-worth, in some cases, says Chris Liou, Infinera vice president of network strategy.

    "People are looking for faster and faster information delivery, and now they even care about how many nanoseconds you're providing them," Liou says.

    Low latency is obviously of interest in financial trading, where milliseconds of advantage can translate into higher profits. But Liou says the topic is also arising in undersea networks.

  • Packet-optical startup Cyan Optics Inc. prides itself on network management tools that cover multiple network layers. At Interop, the company is showing off its newest twist: a heat map that color-codes the most congested parts of the network. (See Cyan Intros Heat Maps.)

    It comes with different views, so that operators can check capacity down to individual VLANs and provision upgrades as appropriate. (Or unleash the salespeople to sell upgrades.)

    The CyMS managment system is a big part of Cyan's pitch, because it looks into the packet and optical layers. The tools only view Cyan's own equipment, though. The plan is to incorporate other vendors' products, starting with Cyan's partners, but that's going to take a year or two. "Definitely not 2010" for the heat map, says Frank Wiener, vice president of marketing and business development.

  • Network processor vendor Xelerated Inc. is now selling entire switches. It's struck an ODM deal with Taiwanese company Accton Technology Corp. , announced yesterday. (See Xelerated Gets Into Switches.) All these chip manufacturers build switches as reference models but usually don't sell the entire switch.

    The first Xelerated/Accton product is a switch for the access network. It's got 44 Gigabit Ethernet ports and four 10-Gbit/s uplink ports.

  • Chipmaker LSI Corp. (NYSE: LSI) is at Interop talking about its multicore processor strategy in general. But it's also put out the T2500, the latest in the Tarari Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) chip line. (See LSI Boosts Tarari and LSI Takes Out Tarari.) You'll notice in the press release that it targets, not only high speeds, but low latency, which we now know is so important. (Just seeing if you were paying attention.)

    Tarari's task is to determine the application that's causing a particular packet stream -- an easier job than security "because you don't have to look at the whole flow; you just have to look enough to recognize what it is," says John Bromhead, a member of LSI's marketing team for networking components. As a result, LSI says the T2500 can handle application recognition in a 100-Gbit/s flow, but if you use it for security, the chip's speed goes down to 20 Gbit/s.

  • Arista Networks Inc. is at the show demonstrating its 7500 modular Ethernet switch fully loaded with 384 10-Gbit/s ports, or what some would call 7.68 Tbit/s of capacity. (See Arista Grows Up, Pumps Iron.) Arista vice president of marketing Douglas Gourlay says it's the largest test bed Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA) has ever set up.

    — Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

  • paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:38:16 PM
    re: Interop Wrap: Latency Craze

    I wonder if cut-through switches will make a comeback.



    Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:38:16 PM
    re: Interop Wrap: Latency Craze

    I should also mention -- Arista has a low latency story to its 7500, too.  When we did the interview for the product launch, Gourlay mentioned in passing that it's got 1/5 the latency of comparable products.  Haven't checked out that claim yet, but it's what they'll tell you at the booth, anyway.

    Time to find a low latency option for coffee.  I may have to go get some in my low latency car. Note that that's not the same as a high-speed car.

    Duh! 12/5/2012 | 4:38:14 PM
    re: Interop Wrap: Latency Craze


    Good one!  As I've said before, plus ca change, plus le meme chose. 

    Now, is AAL5 coming back too?

    joebraue 12/5/2012 | 4:38:14 PM
    re: Interop Wrap: Latency Craze Craig, hope you got one those Extreme skateboards. I still have a set of Extreme hockey sticks and pucks in my garage from an Interop 10 years ago. They are definitely taking the booth tchochkes to a new level.
    paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:38:08 PM
    re: Interop Wrap: Latency Craze


    Well, heck "The Cloud" reminds me an awful lot of Time Shared computers.  So, yes to say your French a little differently....What was old is new again.



    Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:38:07 PM
    re: Interop Wrap: Latency Craze

    Arista just won Interop best-of-show.  (Apparently. I'm picking this up from Twitter.)

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