Data centers hit 40G era

Karen Liu/Ovum
25 Oct 2010

Last week Blade Network Technologies announced the industry’s first 40G Ethernet top-of-rack switch. We expect a slew of similar announcements to support servers moving to 10Gbps port speeds. As 10GbE becomes the common currency in the datacenter, 40G and 100GbE will be needed to support aggregated traffic from 10GbE server connections.

You think 40Gbps is old hat after all the 100Gbps announcements this year? That would be a mistake akin to thinking your SUV comes with the latest Formula One gear. Those 40G and 100G deployments are for the core network, on the biggest routers and long-distance transport equipment.

This 40G is 40G Ethernet, for the enterprise, and sits on the smallest and most commonly sized box in a data center: the 1 RU so-called “pizza box” (a 1.75” rack unit is the height measurement for rack-mounted equipment).

Blade’s announced product, the RackSwitch G8264, fits into the mainstream datacenter design: racks holding multiple pizza-box servers topped with a couple of top-of-rack switches. (Don’t be confused between the company name and the product: this is not a blade switch.)

The servers connect to the access switches, which then uplink to distribution and core switches higher in the classic three-tier switch hierarchy. Earlier use of 10GbE was for these uplinks and the upper tiers of both datacenter and desktop-facing corporate LAN.

Penetration of 10GbE down to the high-volume access switch-to-server downlink is responsible for a notable acceleration in the 10GbE market. Until 2009, the quarterly shipments of 10GbE switch ports crept up linearly but remained under 1 million ports a year.

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