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Intel dubs 2009 'The Year of 10Gb Ethernet'

Coming soon to a motherboard near you

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Intel's high-density computing honcho says that 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) is ready for prime time.

"Datacenters are transitioning to 10GbE technology to meet the explosive data requirements of today's networks," Jason Waxman, Intel's General Manager of High-Density Computing, recently told The Reg.

According to Waxman, the availability of new higher-density top-of-rack 10GbE switches - combined with lower-cost copper technology - are accelerating the 10GbE transition. "10GbE technology is available today in server adapters, but will quickly migrate to be the standard connection on the server motherboard," he said.

A recent report from the networking and telecom market-watching Dell'Oro Group called 10GbE the one "bright spot" in an otherwise moribund Ethernet switch market. Other switch sales are dropping. 10GbE's are rising.

The driving force behind the rapid advance of 10GbE products is simple: price.

According to a release from BLADE Network Technology, original 10GbE switches cost as much as $20,000 per port - more than the price of a server. However, according to BLADE, 10GbE switches can now be found at $500 per port, with street prices even less.

And as 10GbE gains acceptance, production volume will increase, driving prices ever lower.

Intel's 10GbE SR fiber adapter prices, for example, have dropped by more than 70 per cent over the past three years, according to Waxman. The company has also introduced lower-cost 10GbE copper adapters, including SFP+ Direct Attach, 10GBase-T, and CX4.

10Gb Ethernet, a clearinghouse for 10GbE information, lists 11 different companies offering 10GbE top-of-rack switches. Of the products listed, four switches have per-port costs of $500 or less.

Considering that quality Gigabit Ethernet switches hover around $100 or more per port, 10GbE is beginning to look more affordable.

Jayshree Ullal, president and CEO of Arista Networks, pointed us to her company's Arista 7100 Series, touting it as "a compelling price/performance product at two to three times Gigabit Ethernet prices but with 10 times the performance."

Ullal agreed with Waxman's assessment of the rapid decline in 10GbE prices, saying that top-of-rack switches that cost $2,000 to $4,000 per port two years ago now range from $400 to $1,000 per port.

And guess whose company makes that $400-per-port model. Yup. Ullal's.

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