InfoWorld review: Dell PowerConnect 8024F hits 10G paydirt

Dell's 24-port 10G switch packs a lot of bandwidth into its 1U form factor and backs it up with redundant power supplies and full Layer-3 switching -- at less than $500 per port

Ah, the rarified air of 10G switching, very fast, very expensive, very exclusive -- until now. Dell has unveiled a 24-port 10G switch that, priced at $10,088, comes in at around $416 per SFP+ port. Now that's cheap.

My initial qualms with Dell PowerConnect switches -- the line was launched in 2001 -- were the same as for any brand-new hardware line: How durable and reliable would they be? Those concerns have been put to rest based on the performance of the PowerConnect 3000-, 5000-, and 6000-series switches that I've now been running in production for years. In fact, a PowerConnect 6024 gigabit L3 switch has been running a significant part of the lab network without complaint for the past six years. One expects that the 8024F will follow in those footsteps, but only time can tell.

[ Dell's EqualLogic PS6010 series iSCSI arrays have also shifted into high gear. See "InfoWorld review: Dell EqualLogic iSCSI SAN kicks it to 10G." ]

The 8024F is probably best suited as a high-end server consolidation switch or perhaps even an L3 core (with a redundant counterpart) for a smaller but throughput-hungry datacenter. The 8024F is equipped with 20 SFP+ ports and four dual-media ports that support either SFP+ or 10GBase-T connections. Thus, it's possible to run twinaxial cabling straight into every port on the switch or to leverage 10GBase-T for short uplinks on the last four ports.

In addition to the twinaxial cabling, each of the SFP+ ports can be used with a 10G optic supporting either short-range multimode or long-range multi- and single-mode fiber connections, all with standard LC connectors. These optics are quite cheap, costing as little as $157 for short-range multimode up to $317 for a long-range single-mode optic. Suffice it to say, they won't break the bank.

Benchmarked and spec'd
10G deployments and market penetration being what they are (namely, pricey and slight), I wasn't able to run all 24 10G ports simultaneously, so I cannot speak to Dell's stated 480Gbps backplane and 357.14Mpps throughput. I can attest that I was able to get wire-speed performance out of four ports simultaneously, even working across VLANs. Ideally, that performance scales up to the full complement of ports as Dell claims.

I ran a series of throughput tests with IOMeter, looking for weaknesses at different packet sizes and whatnot. Naturally, performance dipped somewhat with smaller packet sizes, but overall the throughput was where it should have been.

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Test Center Scorecard
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Dell PowerConnect 8024F988910

8.7

Very Good

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