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Updated again LINX, the UK's main peering centre for ISPs, has become the first European organisation to implement 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

The London Internet Exchange has gone live with the latest super high-speed networking technology using Foundry Networks' Layer 3 BigIron 800 and 1500 switch technology. Initially, the new Foundry technology will connect LINX's two main UK sites at Telehouse with three more locations coming online in the next quarter. This leaves three other smaller sites which will remain Gigabit Ethernet-based.

Until February 2002 (when it started testing 10Gbps Ethernet), LINX connected its two main Dockland sites with four Gigabit Ethernet links aggregated into a trunk group to form one large 'pipe' (see diagram here).

Managing load balancing over the four physical links in this configuration was still an issue, so late last year LINX decided to upgrade its Metroplotan Area Network (MAN) 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Foundry was selected ahead of its other main supplier, Extreme Networks, because it was quicker to market with 10 Gigabit Ethernet cards, according to LINX. Extreme is supplying LINX with a 8Gbps optical mux card to aggregate traffic from its switches, technology the exchange will roll out later this summer.

LINX weighed up the option of moving to a DWDM (Dense Wave Division Multiplex) solution to increase network performance but this was ultimately rejected and 10 Gigabit chosen because it was cheaper, less complex and easier to manage. Staff didn't have to learn about another technology and the upgrade only involved changing out line cards on existing switches, which it was able to perform with the loss of only three minutes downtime.

The upgrade to 10 Gigabit Ethernet fixes the load balancing issues and provides more head room to deal with demand 'spikes', Mike Hughes, a network architect at LINX explained.

Peak daily traffic flows at the exchange, which handles up to 96 percent of UK Internet traffic, now regularly tops 15 gigabits per second (see statistics here). Average traffic flow is around 12Gbps, with traffic peaking in the early afternoon. ®

Update

A Dutch reader has questioned LINX's claim about been first with 10GigE network and referred us to an academic network for the United Kingdom's Education & Research Networking Association (UKERNA)'s high-speed IP Core, SuperJANET4, Holland's SURFnet5 and Sweden's national education network (SUNET).

But that network (which is based on technology from Cisco Systems) uses Packet-over-SONET/SDH - not 10 Gigabit Ethernet, so LINX's claim of a European first stands.

The University Health Network, which links Universities and Teaching hospitals in Toronto, Canada, was ahead of LINX in deploying the 10GigE technology in a production network, scoring what is believed to have been a world first earlier this year.

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