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Extreme rolls out high-density top-of-rack data center switch

Extreme's new data center switch eases migration to 10 GbE and 40 GbE, with 32 QSFP+ ports engineered for either 32 40 GbE or 104 10 GbE.

Extreme Networks Inc. introduced a high-density top-of-rack data center switch aimed at easing the migration to 10 Gigabit Ethernet and 40 GbE.

The Summit X770, available in January, is a one-rack unit switch with 32 QSFP+ (Quad Small Form-Factor Pluggable Plus) ports, with a total capacity of 1.28 Tbps and 32 40 GbE ports or 104 10 GbE ports. The device, based on Broadcom's popular Trident II silicon, is the first Extreme switch to support the Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links (TRILL) protocol for multipath and multihop routing. It also supports OpenFlow -- initially version 1.0, but 1.3 in early 2014 -- for software-defined networking.

The switch targets a data center market that's evolving quickly as it migrates to 10 GbE and 40 GbE, said Seamus Crehan, president and founder of San Francisco-based Crehan Research. "There is a significant upgrade opportunity for 10 GbE upgrades even as 40 GbE materializes and this product targets both," he said. "You can see this as an access and an aggregation switch, and [it] puts Extreme in a much more competitive position."

In addition to TRILL, the X770's Trident II foundation permits it to support both the VXLAN tunneling and Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation protocols, allowing the construction of virtual LANs across data centers, and across Layer 2 and Layer 3.

Targeting big data infrastructure deployments

Extreme engineered the X770 with latency speeds of less than 600 nanoseconds and less than 3.5 microseconds port to port when combined in a fabric anchored by the vendor's BlackDiamond X8 core switches, said Todd Acree, Extreme's director of product management. Low latency is a key ingredient for resource-intensive operations such as big data analytics, and Acree said Extreme will target the X770 at big data infrastructure projects.

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"It's not just the amount of data, but the analytics involved, and you have to worry about latency," he said. "A lot of big data is unstructured, so you have to take it all, break it into small chunks and merge it back into known structures. Doing that requires CPU cycles."

The switch also supports audio-video bridging and extends Extreme's support of the Precision Time Protocol (PTP). With the X770, Extreme is promoting PTP as a tool data centers and enterprises should use to build fully synchronous networks, Acree said.

"We want to expand that view, so that it's not just the box that is synchronized, but the entire network, so that everything -- servers, storage, etc. -- becomes one big compute cycle. It's no longer just a box, but an entire building."

Crehan said the switch's form factor will appeal to organizations moving away from modular-chassis devices. "This fits in a real sweet spot. Before, Extreme had a server product and a big core switch. Now, they have this product that addresses both markets, with a small form factor and high density."

The Summit X770 is priced between $40,000 and $45,000.

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