Force10 Switches Raise Ethernet Bar

Force10's next-generation TeraScale switches target HPC environments.

Force10 Networks Inc. is taking aim at high-performance computing environments looking to maximize their clusters with next-generation TeraScale E-Series 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches.

The new line sets the high-water mark for Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet price/performance with its ability to process 1 billion packets per second and provide what officials tout as the industrys first line-rate, 48-port Gigabit Ethernet module and first line-rate, four-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module.

The TeraScale E-Series backplane can sustain aggregate switching capacity of up to 1.68T bps. It can accommodate existing Force10 modules as well as new, denser modules. The largest of the three chassis in the line can provide up to 672 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 56 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports operating at line rates.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center, which is using the TeraScale E-Series to aggregate high-performance computing clusters, found in testing the switches that it is indeed getting line rates on the new modules, according to Nathaniel Mendoza, network engineer at the center, in San Diego. "Our whole deal was density and performance," Mendoza said. "No one could deliver the density and performance of Force10."

Mendoza also said he was pleased to see new features implemented in the Force10 hardware, such as support for IPv6 and IP Multicast. Although rivals such as Cisco Systems Inc., Foundry Networks Inc. and Extreme Networks Inc. have more software features, "all the features weve asked for weve gotten," Mendoza said. "Maturity of code is in the other threes favor. But this was a great leap forward for Force10."

The Milpitas, Calif., company added hardware-based port mirroring, quality of service, security and link aggregation as well as support for 1 million access control lists, intended to thwart denial-of-service attacks.

Force10 made the upgrade to the new E-Series for current users a simple matter of installing a new route processor module and new line cards. That will give current users at Friendster Inc. "double the capacity in the same footprint," said Nick Heyman, manager of operations at the Mountain View, Calif., company.

The E-Series is available now, starting at $30,000 for the route processor model.


Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.