Mellanox Technologies is ramping up its efforts in the burgeoning 10 Gigabit Ethernet space with a new aggressive pricing structure and an expanded channel effort.
Mellanox officials are hoping to add fuel to a business that they say has doubled its market share over the past two quarters and to make its 10GbE products-from network interface cards (NICs) to adapters to software-a high-performance and cost-effective alternative to offerings from the likes of Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Brocade and Arista Networks.
Most businesses predominantly use 1GbE networking technology in their data centers, but are looking for the better performance and density and lower latency offered by 10GbE. The key barrier to adoption for many businesses is cost, according to Gilad Shainer, senior director of market development for Mellanox.
"There is definitely strong demand, but the ramp-up in 10 Gigabit Ethernet is not fast, and it's not fast because of price," Shainer said in an interview with eWEEK.
The new pricing structure for Mellanox's products, announced Jan. 23, is designed to bring high-end, low-cost and low-power 10GbE capabilities to data centers, he said. Mellanox's SX1016 64-port 10GbE switch now costs $188 per port, while the 64-port 10GbE or 36-port 40GbE SX1036 switch costs $257 per port. Mellanox's ConnectX-3 EN two-port 10GbE host adapter is $390 per card.
Shainer compared the SX1016 switch to Broadcom's 64-port Trident+ based switches, which he said cost more than $300 per port. The number of ports is the same, but the Mellanox switch-at $188 per port-offers less latency, faster speeds and better energy efficiency.
With Mellanox, "you get the full package," he said. "You get performance and you get cost."
Mellanox's push comes as 10GbE adoption continues to grow. Analysts from market research firm Dell'Oro Group said in a report in November 2011 that 10GbE controller and adapter port shipments for servers grew 47 percent in the third quarter over the same period in 2010, to about 1.3 million. The ramp speed should increase when Intel releases its eight-core "Romley" Xeon server chip later this quarter, according to analyst Sameh Boujelbene, who covers controllers and adapters at Dell'Oro.
Also fueling adoption is the growth in the number of vendors making a push into the space.
"New entrants to the Ethernet server connectivity market are carving out specialty niches and are changing the supplier landscape regularly, as witnessed with Mellanox this quarter," Boujelbene said in a statement. "We expect to see continuous changes through the next couple of years."
Mellanox was the fifth largest vendor in 10GbE controller and adapter port shipment in the third-quarter 2011, Dell'Oro said, with 182 percent growth over the same quarter in 2010.
Mellanox cited numbers from Crehan Research analysts, who say there are about 25 million ports for 10GbE data center and server-class ports installed worldwide, compared with 170 million ports for 1GbE. In addition, 10GbE accounts for 13 percent of all installed Ethernet ports, though Crehan is forecasting that 10GbE will increase to 37 percent of market shipments in 2012.
Mellanox's Shainer said enterprises already are looking at 40GbE and that he expects that interest to increase: "We're seeing a lot of people considering jumping from 1 Gigabit Ethernet to 40G."
Mellanox made a name for itself in the high-end InfiniBand space, an interconnect popular in the supercomputing space. That market just got a jolt Jan. 23 when Intel announced it is buying the InfiniBand assets of Mellanox rival QLogic, a move that brings a major top-tier tech player into the space. According to news reports, Mellanox's stock took a significant hit after the news was announced.