Extreme targets cloud-scale networks with mega-switch

Merchant: Built for big clouds
Merchant: Built for big clouds

High density switch offers cloud data centres almost 8Tbits of wire-speed Ethernet in a single box

Cloud users could be set for a boost. Extreme Networks reckons its new BlackDiamond X8 modular switch will be just the ticket for virtualised and cloud-hosting data centres. The X8 supports up to 192 40Gig Ethernet ports or up to 768 10Gig ports, all at wire-speed and a low latency of just 2.3 µs.

This gives it the highest capacity and density of any eight-slot switch on the market, claimed Shehzad Merchant, Extreme's VP of technology. It is also relatively low-power, consuming just 5.6W per 10Gig port and under 7kW per switch, he said.

“This is purpose-built for big clouds – it's the fastest, lowest-latency switch on the market,” he said. “It can support up to 128,000 virtual machines, thanks to its large routing tables and support for virtual ports, it also has the intelligence needed to detect and migrate VMs.”

"Cloud infrastructure is driving a massive wave of data centre consolidation,” agreed Jon Oltsik, principal analyst for the Enterprise Strategy Group. The X8 "delivers low latency, high density and strong power-efficiency for the data centre,” he said, adding that as a result, "Extreme Networks is well-positioned to support this consolidation."

Merchant said that the X8 was beta-tested by ten Extreme customers, including Finnish Virtual Cloudsvider Elisa Links, Microsoft, and the UK's Wellcome Sanger Trust.

He added that, with “the server edge moving very quickly to 10Gig”, and 10Gig likely to appear built onto motherboards soon, he expected to see more and more servers requiring multiple 10Gig connections, just as Gigabit connections were aggregated a few years ago. “For example, once you add the workload of storage, VMotion and so on, you could need two 10Gigs, duplicated to four for multi-homing.”

The X8 also supports 40Gig over fibre or copper – the latter for very short distances, but "enough to go up and down a rack”, Merchant said. It is 14.5 rack units (RU) high, so up to three can stacked in a rack, and there will be other modules for it in the future, such as 100Gig Ethernet. 

The device's speed comes in large part from its design. “We have completely eliminated the backplane and gone to an orthogonal midplane,” Merchant explained. “It is a big architectural change – it is an any-to-any fabric within the box.”

He added that as switch density and power consumption has climbed, Extreme has had to learn new tricks in other areas too. For example, the X8 has digital power circuitry, management software which can do power utilisation tracking and plug into carbon analytics, and it has “true front to back cooling” for use in hot aisle/cool aisle data centre setups.

Extreme said that the BlackDiamond X8 is now shipping.

Sign up for our free newsletter