Tag Archives: white box switch

How to Select Transceivers for White Box Switch?

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White box switch, also known as open switch, has gained popularity in data centers. Because they provide high performance switching and enable users a broader choice in software and hardware purchase at the same time. However, it’s the openness of open switches that leads to other problems: is there any limitation on the use of optic modules for white box switch? How to choose an optical transceiver for open switches?

white box switches

Considerations When Selecting Transceiver for White Box Switch

As we know, open switches vendors usually sell network switches either as bare-metal devices or preloaded with any compatible operating system, as requested by the purchaser. And there are many hardware and software vendors on the market. In order to achieve the desired performance with white box switch, some users may purchase hardware and software from different vendors. For example, one network operator may buy a white box switch from Dell, FS or HPE, but he will get a network operating system from Cumulus Linux. There is no fault of this action, but it will bring another problem—which type of optical transceivers can be used for the switch?

optical transceiver

According to the situation of white box switch on the market, there are two considerations should be taken into account when choosing an optical transceiver for white box switch.

The first one is the operating system (OS) of the switch. It’s known to us that there are various OS vendors like Cumulus Linux, Pica8 and HPE. They develop their own OS for their white box switch to get more market shares. Some of these companies also have their own optical transceiver production line. And some of them do not preclude the use of any industry-standard transceiver, which provide a freely choice for users to source standard components directly from manufacturers or from a broad range of re-sellers. Therefore, the transceivers from the corresponding OS vendor can be used for their open switches.

Another one is the optical transceiver itself. Not all white box switch vendors can provide transceivers for their switches. And some brand OEMs add enhancements to their standardized optic modules, which increases more cost on optics. However, some open switch vendors look forward to seeing an open standard without vendor lock-in. Therefore, cost-effective compatible optical transceivers that follow MSA SFF specification is another choice for white box switch. Among these compatible optical modules, most generic optical transceivers on the market can be used for white box switch.

Optical Transceiver Solution for White Box Switch

White box switches have been the way for web-scale data center operators who are able to drive down the cost and drive up efficiency and flexibility of their IT infrastructure, especially in some big companies like Facebook, Google or Amazon. And there is a growing group of companies that also want the same level of efficiency web-scale operators have achieved. How to realize this? More white box switches are required without question.

White-box switch market is booming. Under this situation, providers like FS.COM supplies 10GbE switch, 25GbE switch, 40GbE switch and 100GbE network switches preloaded with FS OS or Cumulus OS for small and medium size networks or data centers. And all the generic optical transceivers in FS.COM are available for white box network switches.

Related Article: What White Box Switch Means to SDN Deployment 


Cost Comparison of 10G Leaf Switch and 40G Spine Switch

The growth of network users and the virtualized and automated trend in network have called for a great change in the macro network infrastructure. The “old” three-tier network architecture, namely core, aggregation and access, is quickly proved to be inefficient in modern complicated network environment. So what’s next to replace the outdated frame? After my research, the best I currently find is the flatter leaf-spine network architecture, which surpasses the traditional one with improved switch capacity and much lower latency. This blog will give the cost comparison of 10G leaf switch and 40G spine switch.

three-tier network is outdated

In order to help buying a suitable network switch when scaling the efficient leaf-spine architecture, I will compare some different brands’ 10G leaf switch (48*10G SFP+ and 6*40G QSFP+) and 40G spine switch (32*40G QSFP+) in this post. It should be noted that each 10gb switch and 40gb switch price shown below is based on my own research, and I cannot promise that you can get one at the same price, since there are cases of discount, charged shipping, or tax. But you can take it as a reference. And welcome to add new information or to correct mistakes.

10G Leaf Switch (48*10G SFP+ and 6*40G QSFP+), switch capacity being 1.44Tbps.

Brand Model CPU ASIC NOS Online Base Price (US$)
Edge-Core AS5812-54X X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Cumulus Linux $4,438.07 ~ $4,889.75
Agema AG7648 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Agema OS & OcNOSTM $5,995.00
Cisco Nexus 9372PX X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Cisco Internetwork Operating System (IOS) $9,505.00 ~ $21,318.16
Dell S4048-ON X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Cumulus Linux $2,250.00 ~ $2,850.00
Juniper QFX5100-48S X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Juniper Operating System (JunOS) $24,299.00 ~ $25,942.00
Brocade VDX 6740 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Brocade Fabric OS $16,815.82 ~ $19,369.99
HPE Altoline 6920 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 HPE Comware $11,209.66 ~ $12,792.00
Huawei CE6851 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Huawei Operating System (OS) $6,379.95 ~ $11,238.08

40G spine switch (32*40G QSFP+), switch capacity being 2.56 Tbps.

Brand Model CPU ASIC NOS Online Base Price (US$)
Edge-Core AS6712-32X X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Cumulus Linux $7,571.95 ~ $14,124.16
Agema AG8032 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Agema OS & OcNOSTM $8,495.00
Cisco Nexus 9332PQ X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Cisco IOS $17,617.21 ~ $18,673.15
Dell S6000-ON X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Cumulus Linux $ 29,476.80
Juniper QFX5100-24Q X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 JunOS $29,313.83 ~ $32,949.99
Brocade VDX 6940 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Brocade Fabric OS $21,546.46 ~ $24,036.81
HPE Altoline 6940 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 HPE Comware $15,354.38 ~ $15,739.68
Huawei CE7850 X86-64 Broadcom Trident2 Huawei OS $13,737.60 ~ $23,000.00

These open networking leaf and spine switches are almost all adopting Broadcom Trident 2 chip and the Intel 64 processor, the major difference between them lies in the software. Some big brand switches deploy their own network operating system while some support licensed Cumulus Linux OS.

FS provides not only high performance 10G leaf switch (S9000-48S6Q, 48*10G SFP+ and 6*40G QSFP+) and 40G spine switch (S9000-32Q, 32*40G QSFP+) that have excellent Broadcom Trident 2 switching chip and licensed Cumulus Linux OS, and customers also enjoy the easiest addressing of both hardware and software problems. When you buy open networking switch at FS, you can also get certified optics and cables, and professional software support effortlessly and at low cost.

10G leaf switch

The base prices listed above do not include accessories like optics and fiber optic cables, or the software and hardware support cost. And only a few vendors I know can provide certified optics and cables, and expert software and hardware support at the same time. One-stop experience could only be found at vendors like Cumulus Networks (Cumulus Express service) and FS (Fiberstore). As you know that building a high performance networking is never only about switch, it would be better if simple and all-in-one approach could be provided in switch installation.