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Force10 cranks Ethernet switches to 40 Gigabits

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The race to sell 40 Gigabit Ethernet switches for data center backbones and high-speed networks has begun, and Force10 Networks is getting out there early to stake its claims.

The company is announcing the Z9000 distributed core switch, which tops out at 40Gb/sec speeds but also supports a large number of 10Gb/sec ports if that's all you need at the moment. Force10 is also launching the S7000, a 10GE switch with 40GE uplinks for the top of server racks and is previewing the Z9512, a chassis core switch that will sport a large number of 10GE, 40GE, and 100GE ports. These switches are based on the Trident+ networking ASIC from Broadcom plus homegrown FPGAs that Force10 has cooked up to accelerate networking performance.

The S7000 switch, which will be available in the second half of 2011, is a fixed port switch with modular expansion ports – something that most switch-makers are doing these days on their more exotic top-of-rack machines. It has 1.28Tb/sec of line-rate bandwidth crammed into a 2U rack-mounted chassis. The S7000 supports 128,000 MAC addresses and up to 4,096 VLANs. It has a 9MB packet buffer to keep from choking on the L2 and L3 switching it does. The device also supports jumbo frames (important for networks hooking to big SMP servers), and supports user port stacking, virtual link trunking, and the Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) standard for improving performance when packets have to make multiple hops in the network.

Force10 S7000 switch

The Force10 S7000 top-of-racker

The S7000 has 36 ports that can run at Gigabit or 10GE speeds, plus another dozen ports that can be configured either as 10GE ports or Fibre Channel ports that rev at 1, 2, 4, or 8Gb/sec using the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) portion of converged enhanced Ethernet. These ports support SFP or SFP+ cables. The S7000 switch also has four ports that run at 40GE speeds, which can be used as uplinks back to core switches or that can use breakout cables to convert each 40GE port to four 10GE ports; these ports use QSFP+ cables. In total, the S7000 could push and pull as many as 64 10GE ports. The S7000 has a peak power load of 800 watts and has redundant power supplies; it comes with AC or DC variants.

Like other switches these days, the S7000 from Force10 has application modules, based on x64 processors, that allow for applications that might otherwise run on appliances or on servers to be located inside of the switch itself. The S7000 has four such appliance modules, which slide into the top of the switch. Force10 and various partners will be adding applications to these modules, which will hook into Force10's FTOS switch operating system.

Arpit Joshipura, chief marketing officer at Force10, tells El Reg that the company is charging around $25,000 for the prior S4810 switch and expects to charge between $25,000 and $35,000 for the S7000, depending on the features installed.

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