10G Ethernet switch design with a twist debuts

Fulcrum Microsystems unveils a 10Gbit/sec. Ethernet data center switch

OEM reference supplier Fulcrum Microsystems has unveiled a 10Gbps Ethernet data center switch design that vendors can use to make "lossless" alternatives to Fibre Channel fabrics.

Enterasys and Siemens Enterprise Communications are combining as a result of a US$550 million joint venture between Gores Group, owner of Enterasys, and Siemens. The integration, which Enterasys says took 45 days, is another indicator of demand for unified wireline/WLAN products that can be configured, administered, operated and maintained from a single interface.

Fulcrum's 1RU Monaco platform is a 24-port SFP+ 10Gbps Ethernet switch that features congestion management and flow control. It includes a new Fulcrum congestion management technology, called VantagePoint, which when combined with the switch's 300ns Layer 3 latency, provides a network-wide view of congestion, contention and traffic loads.

Monaco then uses the IEEE's emerging 802.1Qau congestion notification and Fulcrum's IEEE 802.3x class-based pause congestion management capabilities to dynamically react to this global information.

The result is a lossless iteration of Ethernet for data center switching fabrics that can rival Fibre Channel and Infiniband, Fulcrum claims. VantagePoint can also be optimized by Fulcrum customers to provide differentiated or application-specific functionality, the company says.

The Monaco platform will make its debut at SC08 this week in Austin. Fulcrum will be showing a variety of technologies at the show including converged Ethernet fabrics and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), including a demonstration with test equipment maker Ixia to show a unified 10 Gigabit Ethernet data center fabric serving both storage-area networking and LAN traffic.

The demonstration is intended to show the use of lossless Ethernet to transport SAN traffic using the FCoE protocol with guaranteed throughput, while at the same time forwarding standard Ethernet LAN traffic with potential loss. IEEE 802.1Qbb priority flow control will be used to prevent FCoE packets from being dropped on oversubscribed 10G Ethernet ports.

The Monaco platform is available now and is priced at US$20,000.

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