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!

Topological Quantum Superconductor Progress Reported

February 20, 2018

Overcoming sensitivity to decoherence is a persistent stumbling block in efforts to build effective quantum computers. Now, a group of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) report progress in devisi Read more…

By John Russell

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penalties to HPC applications. Even as these patches are rolled o Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Intel Touts Silicon Spin Qubits for Quantum Computing

February 14, 2018

Debate around what makes a good qubit and how best to manufacture them is a sprawling topic. There are many insistent voices favoring one or another approach. Referencing a paper published today in Nature, Intel has offe Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Safeguard Your HPC Environment with the World’s Most Secure Industry Standard Servers

Today’s organizations operate in an environment with ever-evolving threats, and in order to protect themselves they must continuously bolster their security strategy. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Intel® are addressing modern security challenges with the world’s most secure industry standard servers powered by the latest generation of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. Read more…

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penal Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Food Industry’s Next Journey — from Mars to Exascale

February 12, 2018

Global food producer and one of the world's leading chocolate companies Mars Inc. has a unique perspective on the impact that exascale computing will have on the food industry. Read more…

By Scott Gibson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Singularity HPC Container Start-Up – Sylabs – Emerges from Stealth

February 8, 2018

The driving force behind Singularity, the popular HPC container technology, is bringing the open source platform to the enterprise with the launch of a new vent Read more…

By George Leopold

Dell EMC Debuts PowerEdge Servers with AMD EPYC Chips

February 6, 2018

AMD notched another EPYC processor win today with Dell EMC’s introduction of three PowerEdge servers (R6415, R7415, and R7425) based on the EPYC 7000-series p Read more…

By John Russell

‘Next Generation’ Universe Simulation Is Most Advanced Yet

February 5, 2018

The research group that gave us the most detailed time-lapse simulation of the universe’s evolution in 2014, spanning 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution, is back in the spotlight with an even more advanced cosmological model that is providing new insights into how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed, and where magnetic fields originate. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

SC17: Singularity Preps Version 3.0, Nears 1M Containers Served Daily

November 1, 2017

Just a few months ago about half a million jobs were being run daily using Singularity containers, the LBNL-founded container platform intended for HPC. That wa Read more…

By John Russell

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