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Arista pumps up its spine-leaf architecture for huge data centers

Arista has upgraded its spine-leaf architecture for service providers and huge data centers. The update includes a new spine switch and line cards.

Arista Networks Inc. has supersized its spine-leaf architecture to meet the networking needs of the largest service providers, internet exchanges and mobile operators.

Arista bolstered its spine-leaf design this week with the introduction of the 7516R spine, which provides a maximum capacity of 15 Pbps. Also, the company released line cards that provide the same muscle to other members of the 7500R switching family.

Arista has achieved the higher scalability through an upgrade of the Extensible Operating System (EOS) that is the brains of Arista hardware. The updated version of the network OS leverages Broadcom's latest Jericho chipset. Arista uses only merchant silicon to power its switches.

The 7516R adds a 16-slot option to the four-, eight- and 12-slot configurations available in chassis of the other members of the spine family. The 7516R has up to 576 ports of 100 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE). The beefier spine, coupled with new line cards for the 7280R leaf, can power a data center network capable of supporting 1 million servers or 10 million virtual machines.

"Within the scale-out data center, Arista is seeing sustained demand from its cloud titans," said Brad Casemore, an analyst at IDC. "They also see a rise in DCI [data center interconnect] use cases."

EOS enhancements for large spine-leaf architectures

The higher scalability in the new products is due, in part, to an upgrade of the FlexRoute technology in EOS. The latest version takes the number of supported routing tables from 1 million to 2 million. The higher capacity is for companies that need multiple copies of the tables to guide packet flows across many internet connections.

Arista has also added its performance-enhancing software, called AlgoMatch, which was only available in smaller Arista switches. AlgoMatch security features include access control lists, which are tables that tell an OS the user access rights for a file directory, individual file or other system objects.

The software also supports sFlow -- a packet-sampling technology used in monitoring high-speed networks. SFlow is particularly useful in watching for distributed denial-of-service attacks. Other security features include 256-bit encryption for 100 GbE used for DCI.

Latest line cards for a larger spine-leaf architecture

Arista has made the latest features available to all 7500R Series customers with the release of the 7500R2 line cards. Along with the more robust software, the cards add 25 GbE ports to the 10/40/100 GbE options.

The 7280R2 line cards come in either a 1RU or 2RU form factor. The latter has either 100 GbE ports or 48 10/25 GbE and six 100 GbE. The larger card has up to 60 ports of 100 GbE.

The new cards interoperate with current cards, "so we're not obsoleting anything in our existing portfolio," said Martin Hull, senior director of product management at Arista, based in Santa Clara, Calif.

The interoperability lets Arista customers deploy a large spine-leaf architecture through a relatively low-cost upgrade, said Mike Fratto, an analyst at Current Analysis Inc., based in Sterling, Va.

"What's most important about this launch is that the upgrade to R2 is just line cards," Fratto said. "The fabric cards in the chassis and the supervisors don't need to be updated, which makes this a lower-cost upgrade."

Arista plans to make the 7516R available in the second half of the year. The company has released the line cards.

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