Thursday, October 14, 2010

BLADE Introduces 40 Gigabit Ethernet Top-of-Rack Switch

By David Gross

BLADE Network Technologies, soon to be part of IBM, has released a ToR switch, the RackSwitch G8264, that can be configured with four 40 GigE ports, and offers up to 1.28 Terabits of throughput send and receive combined.  

The switch can be configured with as many as 64 10GigE ports, using SFP+ transceivers.    The 10G ports have an amortized cost of $350 each, although I'm sure anyone using the long-reach transceiver option will be paying a little more.   Pricing for 10GBASE-LR SFP+ modules has been running about 2x the cost of 10GBASE-SR SFP+ counterparts.   The 40G ports (only 40GBASE-CR4 is available) cost $1,350 each, and can be configured with QSFP Direct Attach Cables running 1-3 meters.   This is cheaper than most 10GBASE-LR ports, and significantly cheaper than 10 Gigabit Ethernet WAN PHY ports, which still go for well over $10,000.  In multi-gigabit networks, typically it's link length, not line rate, that determines price.   

40GBASE-CR4 is a 4x10 standard, and BLADE allows the 40G ports to be broken down into four separate 10G ports for an all-10G configuration.   There is still plenty of work to be done on serial transmissions over 10G, and it's not clear serial rates over 10G will ever be cost effective in the data center, or anywhere else for that matter.  Nonetheless, 40 Gigabit Ethernet has finally moved from analyst/standards committee/PowerPoint concept to data center network reality.

UPDATE: in the press release BLADE did not mention whose silicon they were using to create the "first terabit switch with a single ASIC", but I believe it's likely privately-held Fulcrum Micro, whose silicon sits in BLADE's RackSwitch G8100

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