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Voltaire kicks out top-of-rack 10-Gig Ethernet switch

Flattening networks for financial services

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If you're starting up a hedge fund, Voltaire has a new 10-Gigabit Ethernet switch that you probably want to take a look at as you set up your gear in a co-location facility near the New York, London or Tokyo stock exchanges.

The Vantage 6024 Layer 2/3 top-of-rack 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch announced today is the workhorse companion to the Vantage 8500 Layer 2 core switch announced last June. The Vantage 6024 has 24 SFP+ ports crammed into a 1U rack unit that run at either Gigabit or 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds, and the chips in the box provide non-blocking switching as does the larger core switch from Voltaire. A single hop on the Vantage 6024 runs you about 700 nanoseconds and the machine burns somewhere between 115 and 168 watts, depending on the load.

Getting those watts down may not seem like a big deal, but thermal issues are one of the key limitations that trading companies are facing as they try to get their gear as close to the stock exchange trading systems as physically possible to get an edge over the competition. (The speed of light cannot be bargained with.) According to Asef Somekh, vice president of marketing at Voltaire, the cost of space in a co-location facility near one of the big stock exchanges is ten times higher than data center space only one or two kilometers away, so financial services companies want to cram as much gear as they can in the racks they buy.

While companies can buy the Vantage 6024 switch as a standalone product, it is being peddled as a bundle including the Voltaire Messaging Accelerator software that was bundled with Voltaire's Grid Director 4036E InfiniBand switch and Ethernet gateway announced in January. The VMA code can take multicast data feeds from market data providers and map them to the chip inside the switch, speeding it up and reducing latencies on the feeds as data is passed down to servers that process the data. The bundle includes the Vantage 6024 switch, the VMA software, network interface cards for the servers and cables to link the servers to the top-of-rack switch. It costs $2,000 per server node.

Voltaire has teamed up with with financial services ISV 29West to run some benchmarks against switches from Arista Networks, the new kid in the switch racket, and says it can demonstrate significant latency benefits with just the Vantage 6024 alone:

Voltaire Vantage 6024 Benchmarks

Arista Networks no doubt has its own benchmarks which show that it is the fastest switch in the West. Or East.

According to Asef Somekh, vice president of marketing at Voltaire, the Vantage 6024 switch not only provides that linkage, but can also replace a dedicated Layer 2 router that is often used in the clusters set up for financial services applications. And perhaps more importantly for Voltaire and its HPC customers, the Vantage 8500 and 6024 can be paired up to create flat, low-latency networks. The Vantage 8500 has 288 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports crammed in a 15U chassis, and up to a dozen can be daisy-chained together to deliver 3,456 ports in a single fabric at the Layer 2 level.

In a setup for 150 server nodes, Voltaire proposes using two Vantage 6024 switches cross-coupled for L3 connectivity, then a pair of Vantage 8500s for the L2 core switching, and then using multiple Vantage 6024s to provide L2/3 edge switching for server nodes. If you want to push it, you can gang up multiple Vantage 8500s and 6024s to support 3,408 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports with an aggregate switch capacity of 69.12 Tb/sec. The whole shebang is managed by Voltaire's Unified Fabric Manager network management software. ®

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