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Foundry Networks readies 10Gb fixed switches

Posted: 18 Mar 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:foundry networks? switch? fes x424? x448? extreme networks?

Foundry Networks Inc. is about to launch its first fixed-configuration switches capable of 10Gbps rates. When fully configured, the FES X424 and X448 will be priced at about $15,000, one-fourth as much as typical chassis-based systems.

The offerings, for corporate LANs, are part of a twin assault the company is planning for the enterprise and carrier markets. Foundry will augment its primary carrier-class switch, the NetIron 40G, with a suite of new software features that give it more failover and bandwidth-management capabilities for complex carrier and Internet service provider (ISP) environments.

Foundry says it will be one of the first to offer fixed-configuration systems for enterprise LANs with optional 10Gb uplinks. Extreme Networks Inc. is racing to offer its new Summit series with 10Gb uplinks. Foundry's 10Gb ports will use XFP modules, which the company believes will come down in price more quickly than Xenpak or other small-form-factor standards.

The X424 and X448 refer to 24 or 48 ports, respectively, of 10/100/1,000Mb Ethernet as standard configurations. One or two ports of XFP-based 10Gb Ethernet can then be added to the 1.5U platform. Either switch can be configured with dual power supplies within the standard fixed chassis, and all data cabling is accessible from the front panel.

The X424 has a forwarding speed of 65 million packets per second, with an aggregate switching capacity of 88Gbps. The X448 forwards 101 million packets/s and switches at 136Gbps.

The XFP optical modules can be configured for short, long or extended reach, while the SFP 1Gb optical modules can meet SX, LX, LHA, and CWDM standards for either multimode or single-mode fiber. The 4xx series switches serve as front-end aggregators for the MG8, Foundry's enterprise version of the Terathon switch architecture introduced last April. Bob Schiff, director of product marketing, said the fixed-configuration 4xx switches also might find a home as aggregators for the carrier version of Terathon, the NetIron 40G.

Meanwhile, Foundry is beefing up the NetIron 40G with a software suite to enhance its value to traditional carriers, ISPs and managers of Internet peering exchanges. Foundry thus expects the system to compete against such core routers as Juniper Networks' T6xx series, as well as against known Layer 3 Ethernet switches like Extreme Networks' Black Diamond and Cisco Systems' 76xx series.

"Obviously, a true core router has additional protocol capabilities we would not claim," said Joe Tomasello, product line manager for metro products at Foundry. "But for many Ethernet-centric applications, this is a $20,000 platform that can compare with some priced at nearly 10 times that much."

NetIron 40G was already designed with redundancy for high availability. In the newest software release, slated to ship in April, Foundry will add Hitless Management Processor Failover, in which Layer 2 traffic flows always have nonstop traffic forwarding, while Layer 2 control data states always are synchronized. Configuration files are also automatically synchronized.

Foundry speeds routing by preprogramming best routes in its hardware forwarding engines. The forwarding-table space has been expanded from 128,000 to 256,000 route table entries, and Foundry Direct Routing dynamically preprograms best routes on initial configuration and whenever adds or changes happen in the net.

Advanced Bandwidth Management enhances traditional virtual-LAN tagging by allowing complex quality-of-service (QoS) determination for assessing service-level agreements between carriers. Traffic rates can be limited with Committed Information Rate and burst-rate capabilities. Bandwidth can be dynamically provisioned between 512Kbps and 10Gbps, and service multiplexing is supported on common Layer 2 and 3 interfaces. Foundry offers an enhanced form of VLAN tagging and aggregation, and hardware in the NetIron 40G supports suppression of multicast traffic.

The NetIron 40G software will ship in the second quarter to existing NetIron customers and new users. FES X systems are priced at $5,495 for the X424, $7,995 for the X448, $4,495 for a single-port 10Gb and $6,495 for a dual-port XFP module, $2,995 for a short-reach XFP plug-in optical component and $3,995 for a long-reach XFP. The X448 will ship in June; all other products will ship in April.

- Loring Wirbel

EE Times

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