IBM RackSwitch 10 GE Switch Does Cheaper Copper Wiring
February 13, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The first 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches came out in 2002, and for many years they were just the high-speed backbones that service providers and network operators installed as trunk lines between gear. But here we are a decade later, and 2012 is expected to be a transition year for 10 GE networking, where ports first start appearing on system boards and switches get cheap enough for 10 GE gear to go mainstream.
The only problem, however, is that even as switches and server ports get cheaper, and the benefits of running converged server and storage traffic over a 10 GE backbone becomes apparent to everyone, the SFP+ and QSFP+ cables required for 10 GE and faster switches are cumbersome and expensive. They aren’t like the relatively–and I said relatively here–cheap copper cables we have strung around the office. But this year, that will be changing with the advent of 10GBASE-T ports, which support standard Category 6 and 5 cables used for Gigabit Ethernet. So now, if your LAN cables were reasonably well made, you can crank up your switch speed by a factor of 10 and not have to rewire your shop.
If you feel the need for speed, then IBM, which has been in the networking business for real for more than a year now, has a rack switch for you. The RackSwitch G8264T, to be precise. This is a variant of the existing G8264 series of rack switches, which offer 1.28 Tbit/sec of non-blocking switch throughput and that can handle 960 million packets per second. And like the other G8264 switches, this one has 48 ports running at 10 GE speeds and four more ports (usually reserved for uplinks, but not always) running at 40 GE speeds. However, the new RackSwitch G8264T has 10GBase-T ports for those 48 10 GE ports instead of the SFP+ ports in the prior G8264 machines; the four 40 GE uplinks remain with the same QSFP+ ports and have the same four-way splitter cables that can convert each port to four 10 GE SFP+ ports if you want to push the box to 64 ports.
The G8264T will be available on April 23. Pricing has not yet been divulged.