High-performance networking vendor Arista Networks has announced a number of updates to its 7130 line of programmable FPGA switches. SwitchApp for Arista 7130 is built on the layer-1 switch that was acquired with the 2018 purchase of Metamako. The new series consistency delivers round-trip latency under 100ns, but it can be as low as 45ns if using the FPGA for switch logic.
Arista leverages Metamako for product innovation
The most significant part of this switch is that it now runs Arista’s EOS operating system instead of the previous operating system from Metamako. One of the strengths of Arista is how flexible and open EOS is and that can be seen in its ability to adapt to different silicon. Most Arista products run on Broadcom silicon such as its Jericho, Trident, Tomahawk but they also have switches that use Cavium, Barefoot and others. This gives all Arista products the same control plane and same management features and tools regardless of which switch is being deployed.
Those using the product can take advantage of the broad EOS feature set that includes support for RSTP, LLDP and IGMP protocols as well as the EOS command line, telemetry, counters and automation capabilities. Network teams would also have access to Arista’s CloudVision management portal, which provides provisioning and orchestration capabilities. Additionally, CloudVision acts as a unified control point for third-party overlay controllers, orchestration systems and security controllers.
EOS was designed for flexibility
To be clear, this is not a trivial task; it has hampered some network vendors, which is why most tend to stick with one line of silicon. This limits the opportunities to create new products based on the different chipsets. Back in the day, Force10, which could be thought of Arista’s predecessor in the area of high-performance switching, was rolling along using Broadcom. The company then created a top-of-rack switch using Fulcrum chips, but the overhead from having to develop two operating systems and keeping them both up to date crippled the company, and they wound up going to Dell in a fire sale. Arista’s EOS was designed to be modular, open and extensible to avoid this kind of situation.
In addition to low latency, SwitchApp provides up to 480 Gbps of non-blocking bandwidth between ports. The non-blocking aspect is critical, because any kind of over-subscription would usurp the value of the ultra-low latency. The product is also highly flexible, because customers can move from 1 Gbps to 10 and 40 without having to do a forklift upgrade.
FPGA offers extended flexibility
The FPGA gives customers additional flexibility; they can be re-programmed to optimize switching architectures to support a range of use cases. New feature requests or innovation that is typically delivered in hardware can be implemented in software, speeding up time to market and extending the life of products.
The most obvious use case for this product is for trading and financial services firms, which depend on high performance, low latency and flexibility to gain a competitive advantage. In this industry, any kind of delay is like an eternity and can cause firms to suffer huge losses or miss opportunities.
Anyone who follows the stock markets, commodities exchanges or even cryptocurrencies knows how volatile things are today, and traders need to be able to respond to changes with as little latency as possible. In this case, the network isn’t only about speed, but also latency, and Arista’s new product is ideally suited for this. In addition to financial services, SwitchApp can be used for multi-layer, multi-chassis link aggregation in leaf-spine networks.