Brocade readying 100G Ethernet for data centers

The company's NetIron MLX line will get modules for the top-end Ethernet specification

Brocade Communications is preparing a 100-Gigabit Ethernet module for its NetIron MLX switch family, breaking the next LAN speed barrier in the flagship hardware line it acquired from Foundry Networks.

The IEEE 802.3ba standard, approved in June, defines specifications for both 40Gbps and 100Gbps connectivity. Networking vendors have been racing to introduce 100-Gigabit Ethernet, which some organizations with fast-growing performance requirements say they already need. Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks said even before the standard's ratification that they were trialing 100Gbps equipment, and Juniper has said it is already accepting orders for it.

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Brocade will give more details on the module next month, Chief Technology Officer Dave Stevens said during a media tour of the data center at the company's new San Jose, Calif., headquarters.

The NetIron MLX 32, the top-end 32-port member of the MLX line, will be able to accommodate 32 100-Gigabit ports, Stevens said. It currently can be equipped with 256 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports or 1,536 Gigabit Ethernet ports, all operating at line speed, he said.

Brocade uses two of the MLX 32 switches at the core of its new data center in San Jose, which consolidates resources that used to be spread among three facilities around San Jose. The MLX switches allowed Brocade to eliminate the aggregation layer, or "top-of-rack" switches, in its data-center network, making more room for servers and reducing requirements for power and cooling, Stevens said.

A variety of other features of the new facility will allow the company to reduce data-center energy consumption by 37 percent, compared to what the three other facilities were using before, executives said during the tour.

Brocade acquired Foundry in 2008, merging its own established storage networking gear with Foundry's Ethernet LAN products. In addition to selling its own equipment, Brocade makes gear that is resold by Dell and Hewlett-Packard. On Wednesday, it reported revenue of $504 million for its fiscal third quarter ended July 31, up 5 percent from a year earlier. Net income was $22 million, or $0.05 per share, compared with a loss a year earlier.

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