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Start-up Arastra enters cheap 10Gig E fray

Speedy little 48 port 1U device

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Another hungry California-based switch start-up is setting a place at the 10-Gbit/s Ethernet table.

Up the road a few miles from fellow 10Gbit E start-up Santa Clara-based Woven Systems is a new contender in the networking market, Arastra based in Palo Alto.

Woven uses some impressive homegrown packet processing silicon to rebalance and reallocate traffic to get Infiniband-type performance and Fibre Channel-style loss less delivery while adhering to Ethernet standards. They've been selling the 10U EFX 1000 system since March, which boasts 144 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports and 1.5 microsecond latency. You can read more about the product here.

Arastra, founded and funded by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, is now ready to reveal some of the details on its Arastra 7100 datacenter Ethernet switch as well. The company is taking a dense 10-Gbit/s box approach.

The 7100 has 48 ports in a 1U chassis with the ability to scale up to 2016 10G E ports per 42U rack.

Arastra 7148S

Arastra 7148S

Arastra said it's going with the pizza box approach for its first offering, as opposed to the more common modular switch, to target the top of the rack space — providing a more power and cost efficient means for data centers to connect their servers.

Under the hood, it sports Layer 2 and Layer 3 switching with throughput up to 960 Gb/s and 714 million packets per second with sub-microsecond latency.

The box has multi-chassis scaling of up to 4096 ports. It supports 10-Gbit SFP+ optics and copper cabling, including 10GBASE-SR, 10GBASE-LR, 10GBASE-LRM, 10GBASE-CR as well as Gbit E 1000BASE-SX, 1000BASE-LX and 1000BASE-T.

Rival CEO Jeff Thermond at Woven says the addition of of Arastra in the marketplace is further validation of their continued bet on Ethernet as a next-gen protocol.

He says the numbers presented by Arastra, however, assume all the switch's connections are 10-Gbit Ethernet. Although the Arastra box does contain 1-Gbit E ports, the consequences of plugging the two types of connections into the same switch would mean a serious latency hike.

Arastra, meanwhile, argues the switch won't be affected by this lag.

The 7100 series switches run the Arastra Extensible Operating System, based on Linux. The OS monitors and restarts processes automatically in response to failures.

The Arastra hardware comes in two models: the 7124S with 24 10G SFP+ ports and the 7148S with 48 10G SFP+ ports. Arastra said the switches have been in beta at several sites including government labs and financial institutions. Production units will be available in Q1 2008.

Arastra isn't providing a price for the switch yet — although it says it's estimating less than $400 per port. ®

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