Switch vendors tout 10 Gigabit Ethernet platforms at N+I

LAS VEGAS -- Two switch vendors announced 10 Gigabit Ethernet platforms at NetWorld+Interop (N+I) this week, with Extreme Networks Inc. saying its upcoming Mariner product will be priced as low as $8,000 per port when launched sometime in the third quarter.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Extreme demonstrated on the show floor a prototype of Mariner, the code name for what Extreme officials said is the first truly programmable core-switching design. The switch is running the Extreme 4GNSS architecture.

The Extreme announcement came one day after Foundry Networks Inc. unveiled on Monday a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch, the BigIron MG8. The product will be priced at about $16,000 per port and will be available this summer. The San Jose-based company demonstrated the product with eight four-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet modules running in a single chassis in a system that lists at about $595,000, officials said.

MG stands for Mucho Grande, the switch's original code name, officials said.

Pricing for previous-generation Foundry BigIron 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches was also chopped by as much as 67%, the company announced in a statement.

Joshua Johnson, an analyst at Synergy Research Group Inc. in Phoenix, said the price of $8,000 per port for a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch is the lowest he knows of and is well below the previously announced $10,000 per port for the XGS 9000 from Riverstone Networks Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif.

Cisco Systems Inc. last month announced its Supervisor 720, priced at about $30,000 per port, he said.

"All the cutting-edge vendors are doing a great job trying to be the first to market with true 10-Gig throughput," Johnson said. "But there are still not a lot of compelling applications for 10Gig E, and price points haven't come down enough for wide adoption."

Many early adopters of 10 Gigabit Ethernet are universities and supercomputing centers. Switch vendors at N+I tried to drum up interest among large companies to install 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches in backbones and data centers or at the backbone of metropolitan-area networks.

The 4GNSS design in the Mariner from Extreme is designed with a new T-Flex programmable application-specific integrated circuit, which means that IT managers will be able to change the functions of chips inside the switch after it's deployed, said Timon Sloane, director of product management at Extreme.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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