An Extreme 40 Gbps Switch

By Sean Michael Kerner | May 16, 2011 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/nethub/article.php/3933656/An-Extreme-40-Gbps-Switch.htm

Bandwidth matters. It's a truism Extreme Networks (NASDAQ: EXTR) understands well, which is why the company has built its new BlackDiamond X8 chassis.

The X8 was first shown last week during the Interop conference running 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40 GbE) traffic. The X8 Chassis can be setup to run up to 192, 40 GbE port or up to 768, 10 GbE ports. In terms of total overall performance, Extreme is positioning the X8 as a 20 Terabit chassis.

"The X8 is a brand new chassis, with up to 20 terabits of switching capacity and 1.28 terabits per slot," Shehzad Merchant, VP of Technology at Extreme Networks, told InternetNews.com.

Merchant added that port-to-port latency on the X8 is only 2.7 microseconds, and the total rack size is only 14.5 RU. Moving forward, the X8 will also support 100 GbE modules when available to further grow the platform.

Raw power aside, Merchant noted that network traffic today is increasingly virtualized which is another area the X8 has focused on.

Merchant explained that there are a number of ways that vendors handle virtualization on a switch chassis. One is a virtual switch model, where every hypervisor has a virtual switch built into it. The other model is one where virtual machines are not switched within the hypervisor, since that all happens in CPU, instead the switching happens on a physical switch.

"We have the ability to do that, we can switch up to 128,000 virtual machines at wire speed," Merchant said.

Extreme has a technology called XNV (Extreme Networks Virtualization) which helps to connect to virtualization technologies from servers to the network.

"XNV introduces the concept of virtual port profiles, where you can configure things on a virtual port basis where every virtual port can correspond to a separate virtual machine," Merchant said. "XNV also automates the movement of port profiles to automatically track VMs as they move around."

The virtual port profile technology leverages the emerging 802.1Qbg port profile standard that is backed by HP and IBM among others. Merchant noted that everything done in XNV is pre-standard, but once the 802.1Qbg is ratified it should be compatible.

Sitting at the heart of the X8, as is the case with the rest of the Extreme Networks portfolio, is its XOS operating system.

"XOS is Linux based and it has a tremendous amount of ability to provide openness in automation and APIs," Merchant said. "It also has the ability to run custom scripting, so you can customize your operating environment."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.