Arista Scales Up Ethernet Portfolio with Big Switch

By Michael Feldman

April 20, 2010

The axis of datacenter networks is shifting and for companies like Arista Networks and other high performance 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switch vendors, this is opportunity knocking. The North-South network traffic pattern of client-server computing that dominated the industry for so long is giving way to high performance East-West networks where server-to-server communication is paramount. And its the rise of the HPC and cloud computing markets that are helping to drive this realignment.

On Monday at the High Performance Computing Linux Financial Markets conference in New York, Ethernet switch vendor Arista Networks announced its first modular switch for the datacenter. The Arista 7500 provides 384 wirespeed L2/L3 10GbE ports in a compact 11RU chassis that the company is touting as “the highest throughput 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch in the industry.” With an aggregate switching capacity of 10 Tbps, a packet memory of 18 GB, a port-to-port latency of 4 to 10 microseconds, and the ability to sling 5.7 billion packets per second, the 7500 is certainly a switch to be reckoned with.

According to Anshul Sadana, Arista’s VP of Systems Engineering and a Cisco alum who joined the company in 2007, they’ve leapfrogged their Ethernet competition. “Even their roadmap slide decks haven’t caught up with what we’re delivering to the market,” he says.  In fact, Arista is offering 40 and 100 GbE upgradeability on today’s 7500 platform. So when the rest of the ecosystem catches up, a fully tricked out 7500 switch could be transformed into a 48-port 100GbE box

Until the 7500 was launched this week, the company portfolio was restricted to its 24- and 48-port rack switches — the 7048, the 7100 T and 7100 S — that sit at the leaf layer of the network. The new 7500 is aimed at the spine layer – the super-highway that aggregates the network traffic from the compute and storage leaf switches. Like all of Arista’s gear, the 7500 is designed for datacenter applications that require a low-latency, non-blocking network fabric. In the past, this type of setup was confined mostly to HPC, but today, with the build-out of cloud computing infrastructure, it’s on its way to becoming a much more widespread networking model.

Arista is one those companies that is riding the GbE to 10GbE industry transition. After less than three years from its launch, Arista has already managed to accumulate over 300 customers spread across more than 25 countries. Sadana says the company is not revealing revenue figures at this point, but claims they are “growing exponentially.”

Currently, about 30 percent of their customers are financial institutions within the high frequency trading space, where Arista’s ultra-low-latency 7100 S switches are a nice fit for applications that need to execute split-second trades. Although none of these customers are admitting to using Arista gear, Sadana says you’ll see plenty of their switches in just about any co-location facility next to the major stock exchanges. According to him, some of these deployments are in the 100-switch range, deployed across multiple sites. “I would say we’re the number one vendor in that space today,” says Sadana.

Arista’s other customers are spread across the oil and gas industry, universities, US DOE labs, Web 2.0 datacenters, and cloud/hosting providers.  Specific customers — at least ones who will publicly admit to owing Arista gear — include the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), SARA in Europe, the University of Colorado, the BBC, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, and the San Diego Supercomputing Center, among others

Some of the first customers of the 7500 switch include the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the San Diego Super Computer Center (SDSC) and a yet-to-be named DOE lab. Early testing on a 504-node (4,032-core) cluster employing an Arista 7508 switch and 7148SX top-of-rack switches yielded a Linpack performance mark of 35.8 teraflops. That represents 84 percent of the machine’s peak performance, which is on par with the Linpack efficiency of InfiniBand-connected clusters. Only proprietary interconnects, such the one in Japan’s Earth Simulator supercomputer can do much better — 93 percent efficiency, in this case.

In fact, Arista switching pretty much matches InfiniBand performance and utility in most areas except perhaps raw bandwidth. But compared to traditional Ethernet aggregation switches, the 7500 boasts much better performance, energy efficiency, and price-performance. For example, Cisco’s Nexus 7010 switch can only support 64 10GbE ports at wirespeed and just under 1 billion packets per second. And at 21RU, the Cisco switch is nearly twice as large as the Arista chassis.

A fully configured 7500 is listed at $460,000, which works out to around $1200 per port. That’s 1/30 the cost of its Cisco switch counterpart. Furthermore, since the Nexus box consumes 139 watts per wirespeed 10GbE port, compared to 13.2 watts for the Arista gear, energy costs for the 7500 are going to be about 1/10 that of the 7010.

To be fair, the Nexus 7010 incorporates a lot more routing capability and other features that makes it a more capable end-to-end switch for the datacenter. But that was part of Arista’s calculation. By focusing on the spine layer of the network, the company could maximize aggregate bandwidth and minimize latency, while beating the competition significantly in cost and power consumption.

In the short term, more formidable competition may come from InfiniBand vendors — and not just from InfiniBand switches. Last year, Voltaire launched the Vantage 8500, an Ethernet core switch with a capacity of 11.5 Tbps that provides up to 288 10GbE wirespeed ports in a 15U chassis. The 8500 is an L2 core switch, so presumably it lacks some of the L3 routing smarts of the Arista 7500. But since Voltaire employs cut-through rather than the store-and-forward switching of the Arista 7500, the 8500 is able to keep latencies in the 1 microsecond range. (On the other hand, store-and-forward has some performance advantages in the spine layer, especially for storage clusters and TCP traffic.) Power consumption and pricing per port for the 8500 are comparable to the Arista solution.

On Monday, BLADE Network Technologies and Voltaire announced they are combining forces to offer a lossless converged Ethernet fabric solution based on the 8500 and BLADE’s G8124 24-port top-of-rack switch. The BLADE-Voltaire solution is aimed at applications that rely on the same type of low latency, non-blocking networks that Arista is targeting, namely HPC and cloud-scale apps. The switch combo is packaged with Voltaire’s Unified Fabric Manager to manage switch resources, and is designed to scale up to 3,400 10GbE ports. The solution also comes with BLADE’s VMready (for virtualized environments) and Voltaire Messaging Accelerator software (for high frequency trading applications).

Although InfiniBand is still the interconnect of choice where the lowest latency and highest bandwidth are needed, solutions like those from BLADE, Voltaire, and Arista will make it easier for HPC, high frequency trading, and ultra-scale datacenter applications to transition from GbE to 10GbE networks. And with 40 GbE and 100 GbE just over the horizon, the protocol will be with us for the foreseeable future.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Scalable Informatics Ceases Operations

March 23, 2017

On the same day we reported on the uncertain future for HPC compiler company PathScale, we are sad to learn that another HPC vendor, Scalable Informatics, is closing its doors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Strategies in Biomedical Data Science’ Advances IT-Research Synergies

March 23, 2017

“Strategies in Biomedical Data Science: Driving Force for Innovation” by Jay A. Etchings is both an introductory text and a field guide for anyone working with biomedical data. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Launches New Machine Learning Journal

March 22, 2017

On Monday, Google announced plans to launch a new peer review journal and “ecosystem” Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HFT Firms Turn to Co-Location to Gain Competitive Advantage

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a high-speed, high-stakes world where every millisecond matters. Finding ways to execute trades faster than the competition translates directly to greater revenue for firms, brokerages, and exchanges. Read more…

Swiss Researchers Peer Inside Chips with Improved X-Ray Imaging

March 22, 2017

Peering inside semiconductor chips using x-ray imaging isn’t new, but the technique hasn’t been especially good or easy to accomplish. Read more…

By John Russell

LANL Simulation Shows Massive Black Holes Break ‘Speed Limit’

March 21, 2017

A new computer simulation based on codes developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is shedding light on how supermassive black holes could have formed in the early universe contrary to most prior models which impose a limit on how fast these massive ‘objects’ can form. Read more…

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Ships Drives Based on 3D XPoint Non-volatile Memory

March 20, 2017

Intel Corp. has begun shipping new storage drives based on its 3D XPoint non-volatile memory technology as it targets data-driven workloads. Intel’s new Optane solid-state drives, designated P4800X, seek to combine the attributes of memory and storage in the same device. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Japanese Supercomputing Project Targets Exascale

March 14, 2017

Another Japanese supercomputing project was revealed this week, this one from emerging supercomputer maker, ExaScaler Inc., and Keio University. The partners are working on an original supercomputer design with exascale aspirations. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Debuts HGX-1 for Cloud; Announces Fujitsu AI Deal

March 9, 2017

On Monday Nvidia announced a major deal with Fujitsu to help build an AI supercomputer for RIKEN using 24 DGX-1 servers. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC4Mfg Advances State-of-the-Art for American Manufacturing

March 9, 2017

Last Friday (March 3, 2017), the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program held an industry engagement day workshop in San Diego, bringing together members of the US manufacturing community, national laboratories and universities to discuss the role of high-performance computing as an innovation engine for American manufacturing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel and Trump Announce $7B for Fab 42 Targeting 7nm

February 8, 2017

In what may be an attempt by President Trump to reset his turbulent relationship with the high tech industry, he and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich today announced plans to invest more than $7 billion to complete Fab 42. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This