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Mellanox announces world’s first 25/100Gb switch

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The Spectrum switch offers faster connectivity, can run third-party software

Networking specialist Mellanox has announced Spectrum - a non-blocking 25/100G switch for data centers,

Spectrum is based on the Open Ethernet architecture, which means it can run a variety of open source and proprietary software. The switch delivers 6.4Tb/s full wire speed switching and routing capacity.

“With Spectrum, data centers can migrate from 10 to 25, or from 40 to 50 or 100 Gigabit Ethernet, and be able to keep up with the escalating network demands for data retrieval and processing,” explained Gilad Shainer, vice president of marketing at Mellanox.

Mellanox Spectrum IC

Mellanox Spectrum IC

Future networks

25Gb Ethernet connectivity to the server is a relatively new concept. It offers better utilization of hardware and a more logical upgrade path than the well-established 10Gb and 40Gb connections, since it relies on a single strand of copper or fiber, as opposed to four 10Gb lanes used to reach 40Gb of bandwidth.

Two 25Gb lanes can be combined to deliver 50Gb, and four lanes carry 100Gb.

It is important to note that while 100Gb Ethernet standard has been formally approved, 25Gb connectivity is still being worked on by the 25Gb Ethernet Task Force within the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), as part of the project ’802.3by’.

The recently established 25Gb Ethernet Consortium, of which Mellanox is a founding member, aims to fill in the blanks while the IEEE group comes to a consensus – something that’s not expected to happen before September 2016.

Spectrum will give Mellanox customers an early start with 25, 50 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet data center fabrics. It promises zero packet loss, advanced tracking of bandwidth and congestion, and programmable load balancing capabilities.

The switch is being released under the Open Ethernet banner – an initiative established by Mellanox in 2013. Similar to Dell’s Open Networking, it gives customers flexibility to choose their switch hardware independently of the OS – and run ‘Snappy’ Ubuntu Core or Cumulus Linux instead of MLNX-OS.

This functionality is enabled by the OCP Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) and the OCP Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI).

With Spectrum, Mellanox becomes the first networking vendor to offer the entire range of Ethernet connections, including 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100 Gigabit.

“We are forecasting a very strong uptake in 100 Gigabit Ethernet data center switching, with shipments increasing from approximately ten thousand in 2014 to over ten million by 2019,” said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research.

“With the introduction of this high-density 100 Gigabit Ethernet switch, Mellanox is in a position to take advantage of the pent-up bandwidth demand in cloud data centers, where it already has had considerable success with its high-speed low-latency adapter products.”

Last month, Huawei announced industry’s first Top-Of-Rack switch designed for 25Gb Ethernet connectivity to the server.

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