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Pica8 Adds 25/50/100GbE Networking to SDN OS

With PicOS 2.7.1, Pica8 is bringing fast networking to white-box switches powered by ASICs from Cavium and Broadcom for SDN environments.

network virtualization

Pica8 is enhancing its white-box network operating system with support for fast 25/50/100 Gigabit Ethernet networking.

Company officials on June 21 unveiled PicOS 2.7.1, which includes the support for the fast Ethernet switching for switches that are powered by Cavium's XPliant and Broadcom's Tomahawk switches ASICs. Pica8 demonstrated the capabilities during the SC 15 supercomputing show in November 2015, and now is incorporating the enhancements into the operating system, which is shipping on 100GbE white-box switches from Edgecore Networks and Inventec.

"Higher bandwidth demand dictates a move to 25/50/100GbE networking, and service agility dictates a need for SDN [software-defined networking]," Dan Tuchler, vice president of product management at Pica8, said in a statement. "In PicOS 2.7.1, we are ahead of the curve by bringing SDN to cost-effective 100GbE switches for the first time."

PicOS 2.7.1 also includes a new feature called AdvanceFlow, which officials said is a set of features that deliver greater granularity in flow management and optimization, which for customers means greater scale. Some of the capabilities include larger tables for L3 flows, controls that can be used to specify hardware vs. software flows, and improved integration of L2 and L3 tables into the memory tables of the network switch.

The goal is to create technologies that enable enterprises to adopt bare metal switches that can scale to run enterprise workloads. SDN and network-functions virtualization are designed to make networks more programmable, flexible and affordable by decoupling the control plan and networking tasks like load balancing and firewalls from the underlying networking gear and putting it into software that can run on commodity systems. That includes unbranded white-box systems built by original design manufacturers (ODMs).

With SDN, such systems can offer similar levels of performance as switches from established vendors like Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Dell, but at much lower costs. Such companies have pushed back with SDN offerings of their own, and some—such as Dell, Juniper and HPE—have developed branded switches that can run third-party software from such companies as Midokura, Big Switch Networks and Cumulus Networks. Gartner analysts have referred to such efforts as "brite box" initiatives.