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Cisco Readying New Nexus 3500 Low-Latency Switch

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Details are scarce but a mid-September launch for Cisco Systems’ new Nexus 3500 top-of-rack switch is in the cards, a product that will reduce latency significantly compared to its current offerings.

Cisco execs aren’t denying the switch is coming, but neither are they spilling the beans. Press coverage suggests the 3500 will have port-to-port latency of 250 nanoseconds, way faster than the network giant’s current 3064 and 3064-X offerings.

The same coverage also points to a new network interface card (NIC), dubbed unNIC, suggesting that the combination could be pitched as an alternative to InfiniBand. Once, briefly, a champion of InfiniBand, Cisco has for some time thrown its weight behind Ethernet technologies. Meanwhile, Intel has given InfiniBand a boost with its purchase of QLogic’s business in that space.

More certainly, the 3500 will mean a leapfrog for Cisco over rival Arista Networks, which offers the 7124SX with port switching latency of around 500 nanoseconds. Meanwhile, the likes of Gnodal claim sub-150 nanosecond switching for its GS7200, and Zeptonics’ ZeptoMux clocks in at around 130 nanoseconds. Also, Rockflower Networks is in design/concept stage for its RM200GX-10, claiming a less than 100 nanosecond latency.

Of course, latency isn’t the only measure of a switch.  Low jitter, ability to cope with microbursts, buffer analytics, precision time support, layer 3 network protocol support, and management are also factors. As is price. In the future, add to that intelligence, which Arista has a lead in, with its 7124FX, featuring an internal FPGA chip for application logic.

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