Force10 bulks up

Force10 recently announced line cards that pack up to 16 ports of 10G Ethernet into a single chassis slot on its flagship E1200 series switches.

The Ethernet switch maker says the card can be used to build a backbone switch capable of handling a maximum of 224 10G Ethernet links. The card is aimed at the bandwidth-intensive data centres of organizations such as large corporations and service providers.

Force10 says the blades take advantage of its 380Gbps bandwidth per slot in the E series switches, allowing each port to blast packets at full throttle without blocking other traffic on the module or backplane.

The blades, which also come in an eight-port 10G Ethernet version, are a leap from the vendor’s previous four-port 10G Ethernet modules. They are currently the highest-density 10G blades announced. (Foundry is second with an eight-port 10G blade.)

In September 2004, Force10 updated its E series switches with new switch fabrics that included 5Tbps of total switching capacity and 380Gbps of bandwidth between each slot and the switch’s backplane.

The vendor says this per-slot capacity allows the box to handle the new 16-port 10G Ethernet modules — with a potential total throughput of 320Gbps with ports operating in full duplex — with room to spare.

For smaller deployments, Force10 also is launching an eight-port 10G Ethernet module. This blade is targeted at its E300 series chassis.

Both blades use the 10 Gigabit Ethernet Small Form Factor (XFP) port standard for optical components. The 16-port blade costs US$57,500 and the eight-port module costs US$37,500. Both products are scheduled to be available on Dec. 15.

As for something to plug into a 10G Ethernet switch, IBM and 10G network interface card (NIC) maker Neterion are expected to announce a deal in which IBM will sell Intel-based xSeries servers with integrated Neterion XFrame II 10G network adapters.

The IBM servers, running Windows or Linux, and Neterion NICs use the PCI-X 2.0 bus standard for connecting I/O cards to the system’s bus, allowing for a full 10Gbps throughput. Pricing and availability on the xSeries servers with 10G NICs were not released.

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