NetWorld+Interop 2001 attendees this week will catch one of the first waves of 10G Ethernet products, but initial pricing will put the technology out of reach for most corporations.
Avaya and Cisco, among the companies showing 10G bit/sec wares, are charging tens of thousands of dollars for their products, but hope customers will be enticed to use them to support offsite data storage and other advanced applications.
Avaya will announce a 10G Ethernet blade for its Cajun P880 and P550 enterprise backbone switches that will include three optical interface options for various distances and fiber media types. Optics for the blade include an 850-nm transceiver that can send traffic 984 feet over single-mode fiber, commonly used for old FDDI rings. Also, 1310-nm and 1550-nm versions are available for sending traffic up to 6 and 25 miles, respectively, over more expensive single-mode fiber.
Avaya says its new module, which takes up two slots in a P880 or P550 chassis, can switch 10G traffic at Layers 2 and 3. The company says the module also supports 802.3ad link aggregation, which could be used to trunk two 10G links together in a chassis for a virtual 20G bit/sec pipe and add redundancy in case of a fiber or switch module failure. The blade will cost $20,000 to $60,000, depending on interfaces.
Cisco announced two 10G modules last week, and will show 10G products at Interop. The new blades for the Catalyst 6500 switch and Cisco 7600 Internet Router are thinner than the Avaya offerings, taking up a single slot in a chassis. Cisco's single-port 10GBase-EX4 module has proprietary 1550-nm optics that can transmit 10G traffic 31 miles over single-mode fiber, which is 25% farther than the distance supported by the 802.3ae standard for 1550-nm interfaces, Cisco says. The module is designed to support Layer 2 and 3 switching, as well as higher-layer switching when used in a Catalyst 6500 switch fitted with the Content Switch Module. The module is scheduled to ship by the end of this month and will cost $80,000.
Also announced was a 10GBase-LR module with 1310-nm optics based on the 802.3ae draft, able to reach distances of 6 miles over single-mode fiber. The blade comes with a base module and a detachable optical interface that could be swapped out with other 10G optics that are expected to become available as the standard approaches ratification in the next six to nine months. Cisco plans to ship the blade by year-end but would not disclose pricing.
One user who will test the 10G Cisco blades this month is anxious to see if Ethernet can be used as a less expensive long-haul alternative to ATM.
"Ten Gigabit Ethernet is certainly a candidate for our long-distance networking needs," says Leonard Stans, manager of the Advanced Networking Integration Department at the Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, N.M. The lab plans to test 10G connects between its supercomputers, and to connect to other government laboratories.
If interoperability and reliability can be proven, Stans foresees that 10G Ethernet will be less expensive than ATM in the long run - despite its high price now - because he sees Ethernet technology as being less complex and easier to manage.