F5 Launches New Big Switch

F5 Networks aims to bring unprecedented speed and a boost in performance with a high-end version of its Big-IP layers 4-7 switch and updated software.

F5 Networks Inc. this week rolls out a high-end version of its Big-IP layers 4-7 switch and updated software that company officials said offers unprecedented speed and a boost in performance.

As part of the announcement, the Seattle company is unveiling what officials said is the first ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit)-based compression technology that can deliver 2G bps of sustained HTTP compression.

That compression, combined with the new Big-IP 6800 platform and a 50 percent performance boost in F5s software, adds up to a maximum throughput of 4G bps or 8 million concurrent connections, according to F5 officials.

By offloading the HTTP compression from servers onto the new ASIC, users can gain a 20 percent boost in server capacity.

For large enterprises, hosting companies and high-volume, dynamic content Web sites pushing the performance envelope, the new compression card can relieve CPU bottlenecks.

"Were a fully dynamic site generating 1,500 to 2,000 pages per second. Being dynamic and not just pushing static files around, we often find ourselves CPU-bound. The less work our back-end Web nodes need to do to generate the pages, the more overall CPU we have to work with," said F5 user Brad Fitzpatrick, creator of the blogging site LiveJournal.com.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more about F5 here.

The compression offload ASIC, implemented in a module for the new Big-IP 6800 as well as the Big-IP 6400, can intelligently offload compression processing to optimize the workload. For example, file types that compress better in software can be compressed on the server, and thresholds can be set so that all compression jobs go to the ASIC when CPU utilization reaches 60 percent.

In a follow-up to its revamped TM/OS Version 9.0 launched last fall, F5 optimized performance in its control software by 50 percent. The new release is now capable of processing 75,000 Layer 7 connections per second.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read a review of TM/OS Version 9.0, click here.

"Version 9.0 was really a new piece of code. They corrected mission-critical bugs, and, in the process, theyve been able to go through their code with a fine-tooth comb and not only work out the bugs but optimize the performance as well," said Joel Conover, an analyst with Current Analysis Inc., of Sterling, Va.

The Big-IP layers 4-7 switch, which combines SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) processing, HTTP compression, rate shaping, authentication enforcement and advanced application networking, raises the ceiling on the high end of F5 platforms. The software update, new compression card and Big-IP 6800 are available now. The compression card is $15,995, and the Big-IP 6800 is $49,995.

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