Ixia to release eight port 10GbE load tester

With an increasing number of organizations shifting to 10 Gigabit Ethernet networks, equipment manufacturers, providers and network managers need ways of testing new gear that will deliver these loads.

Ixia, a Calabasas, Calif. maker of IP test equipment, will release a solution next month for 10GbE switches for layers 2 to 7 based on a new architecture.

The 10 Gigabit Ethernet XM Load Module, which plugs into Ixia’s XM12 chassis, has either four or eight 10GbE ports, each with its own processor, which can test data, voice and video traffic. With the eight-port version, 96 10GbE test ports can fit in the 19-inch XM12 chassis.

Other competitors need several chassis to match that number of ports, the company said. As a result, it’s able to offer power and space savings.

“This eight-port module allows our customers to emulate the lower-level network in order to do layer 2-3 testing,” said Victor Alston, Ixia’s senior vice-president of products, “but they also have the capability to do higher level layer 7 testing.”

Alston wouldn’t detail pricing for the module, which he said “is much improved over our previous load modules.” It will begin to be available in limited quantities by the end of next month, with full production starting after that.

Initially, he expects switch manufacturers including customers such as Nortel Networks and Cisco Systems to buy the module. Manufacturers account for 65 per cent of Ixia’s revenue. By next year sales to service providers (which account for about 25 per cent of revenue) and enterprises will pick up, he predicted.

According to research firm Frost & Sullivan, revenue figures for network test equipment sales shows how organizations are switching to 10GbE from Gigabit Ethernet. In 2007, sales of 10 GbE test equipment came to about US$141.3 million, an increase of 21.9 percent over 2006. It is expected that the market revenues will total around $769.3 million in 2014, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 27.0 percent.

By comparison, while revenues from sales of Gigabit Ethernet products are higher, they grew last year by 17.6 per cent over 2006, and over the next seven years will have a compound annual growth rate of 21.8 per cent. Ixia’s competitors include Agilent Technologies, Anritsu, EXFO, JDSU, Shenick Network Systems, Spirent Communications, and Sunrise Telecom. However, not all of them make 10GbE test equipment, nor do all test up to layer 7.

The upcoming Ixia four and eight port load modules come in two versions: a full-feature model with 800Mhz CPUs and 512Mb of memory, and a reduced-set model with half the power and memory. All models use the company’s “Yukon” architecture, whose new processors and memory allows increased performance with less power. The architecture will be included in more of the company’s load modules.

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