Brocade boosts 10G Ethernet density for data centers

New SAN switches aimed at better network consolidation and service levels

Brocade this week rolled out 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 8Gbps FibreChannel modules for its routers and storage-area network  switches designed to increase the wire-speed density of both platforms to better support network consolidation and improve service levels.

The new modules are an eight-port 10G Ethernet blade for the MLX and a 64-port 8Gbps FibreChannel card for Brocade's DCX SAN switch. The MLX board doubles the router's 10G Ethernet density to 256 ports while the FibreChannel blade increases the density of the DCX backbone and DCX-4S switches by 33% -- to 512 and 256 8Gbps ports, respectively.Brocade says the increased density on both platforms will allow for scalability but reduce the number of new platforms customers will have to buy, thereby reducing capital expenditures. They'll also simplify network design and operation -- and reduce costs in those areas as well -- while lowering power consumption, the company claims.

And because they operate at wire-speed, the modules will alleviate bandwidth oversubscription, which will improve service levels by reducing latency and congestion.

The MLX blade sports eight SFP+ 10G Ethernet ports. All ports can run at wire speed simultaneously and draw 45% less power than previous generation 10G Ethernet modules for the router, Brocade says.

They are Data Center Bridging "capable," the company says, meaning they will support the IEEE Data Center Bridging standards through a software upgrade. The modules can be used with existing 4/8/16 and 32-slot MLX chassis.

Brocade is offering two versions of the blade: one for the core and aggregation layers of the data center; and one for service providers. The data center version supports a forwarding information base that's half the size of the service provider version and does not include MPLS or VPLS.

LINX is a London-based Internet Exchange using the service provider version of the new module. It allows the exchange to scale its network for interconnecting and peering with other exchanges without acquiring new MLX routers, says John Souter, LINX CEO.

"We have two MLX 32 (port versions) and two 16s as well," Souter says. "When you have that fully stuffed with four port cards you get to a limit of 128 ports and then that's it. When you exhaust that number you have no other choice than to start deploying more switches. It becomes progressively inefficient to do that because you have to spend a lot of that capacity enabling them to talk to each other. We are already marching down that road. We desperately wanted this increase in capacity because …it gives us a bit of headroom to grow. In our busiest locations, we were already well past the 128-port (limit)."

The MLX 8x10G blade for service providers costs $39,995 and is available now. The module for data centers costs $27,995 and will be available this summer.

The 64-port 8Gbps DCX blade support wire-speed performance simultaneously on all ports, Brocade says. They increase total system bandwidth to 4.6Tbps on the eight-slot backbone DCX and 2.3Tbps on the four slot DCX-4S.

The modules can also be used with existing eight- and four-slot configurations.

Brocade sells the modules and DCX systems through OEMs, so pricing and availability is established through them, the company says.

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