Foundry Edgeiron Raises Bar

At $2,500 per port, aggregation switch is designed to push 10 Gigabit Ethernet beyond niche applications.

Foundry Networks Inc. this week is pushing to move 10 Gigabit Ethernet beyond niche applications with the launch of a low-cost switch.

Foundrys EdgeIron 10 Gigabit Ethernet aggregation switch beats market research forecasts for reaching the $2,500-per-port price by about two years, according to officials at Foundry, in San Jose, Calif.

"For the mainstream, we want to drive the price/ performance curve," said a Foundry spokesperson, citing a DellOro Group Inc. report.

For early 10 Gigabit Ethernet users at the University of Southern California, the price point is "compelling," said Richard Nelson, director of IT for the USC Information Sciences Institute in Marina del Rey.

"We had one of the first 10 Gigabit [Ethernet] networks on the West Coast. The first one was in the $40,000 range. This is at least a [twentyfold] price reduction," Nelson said.

Nelson will beta test Foundrys other new 10 Gigabit Ethernet offerings, the EdgeIron EIF24GS and EIF48GS. Those are a pair of stackable switches that deliver 24 or 48 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Nelson intends to use the stackable EdgeIron 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches to create a comprehensive 10 Gigabit backbone, linking into a central 10 Gigabit Ethernet chassis switch. Although users dont always fill such a large pipe, preparing for increased demand is important, he said.

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"More and more desktops and laptops are being delivered with [Gigabit Ethernet] on the machine. Its always good to install capacity in advance of demand—not when customers are beating down the door," Nelson said.

Up to eight of the EdgeIron stackables can be linked for a total of 384 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Such density in a small form factor was made possible by a new Foundry XFP optical transceiver, which is half the size of existing Xenpak optical transceivers.

Along with the XFP transceiver, Foundry added three new Xenpak optical transceivers that will work across its product lines. The 10GBase-LW connects 10 Gigabit Ethernet directly to high-speed SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) links.

"You can plug 10 Gigabit Ethernet into a DWDM (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing) device or SONET device and encapsulate Ethernet into the SONET frame and take Ethernet around the world," the Foundry spokesperson added.

Foundry also added the 10GBase-LX4, which allows users to exploit existing multimode fiber used for legacy FDDI networks, as well as the 10GBase-CX4, which provides a 15-meter copper cable connection for linking switches within the data center.

Foundry continued to fill out its 10 Gigabit Ethernet lineup with a new eight-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet module for Foundrys BigIron MG8 chassis switch. It allows users to double the density on that switch from 32 to 64 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The offerings will roll out between now and January.

Foundry late last month settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Nortel Networks Ltd. As a result, Foundry agreed to pay Nortel $35 million in exchange for several four-year Nortel licenses to use the Brampton, Ontario, companys technology.

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