Myricom, Foundry Push 10-Gig

Vendors team up in an attempt to drive 10-Gbit/s Ethernet into the enterprise

August 23, 2005

3 Min Read
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Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY) and Myricom Inc. have joined forces in an effort to drive 10-Gbit/s technology out of its high-performance computing niche and into enterprise data centers (see Foundry Allies With Myricom).

The two companies will test and reference-sell Foundrys 10-Gbit/s switches and Myricom’s new 10-Gbit/s Ethernet Network Interface Cards (NICs) (see Myricom Brings HPC to Ethernet).

It may sound like any old partnership, but because 10-Gbit/s has traditionally been the preserve of high-performance computing users, it could signal a shift in industry thinking. Steven Schuchart, an analyst with Current Analysis, believes the deal opens the door to enterprise data centers. “This announcement signals the first wave of people [who are] not necessarily in high performance computing, putting 10-Gbit/s cards in their data center servers.”

Speed, according to Schuchart, will be the key selling point, with users depoying the NICs to speed up data transfer and backups. “For some companies this will make sound financial sense,” he says. “There aren’t a whole lot of 10-Gbit/s NICs out there.”

Many users are looking for faster Ethernet to cope with increased data volumes, particularly in high-end enterprises and telcos. This, in turn, has prompted a flurry of activity in the 10-Gbit/s Ethernet space from Foundry and its rivals, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR). (See Components Fuel 10G Ethernet Takeoff.)Another big factor behind the technology’s growth is the ongoing drop in the cost of 10-Gbit/s switch ports, a trend Foundry helped drive (see Foundry Flies on 10-Gig, Foundry Drops 10-GigE Prices, 10-GigE Price Drops Continue, and Cisco Bombs 10-GigE Pricing). This should help tempt users to combine the two technologies from Foundry and Myricom, according to Bob Schiff, Foundry’s vice president. “The price points [of] the switch ports and the NIC make it a much more affordable solution,” he says.

Although the NICs were only announced in June, Charles Seitz, Myricom’s CEO, says the company has already received 20 purchase orders, some of which are from “household name OEMs.”

But Schuchart warns that many users are still some ways from even thinking about 10-Gbit/s Ethernet, let alone deploying it. “There are some customers out there that have only just got to 1 Gbit/s in the last couple of years,” he says.

Despite all Foundry and Myricom’s enterprise ambitions, Seitz hasn't taken his eye off the next list of the world’s Top 500 Supercomputer Sites, which is due to come out early next year. The list, which is updated twice yearly by representatives of the University of Mannheim, the University of Tennessee, and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, reveals which technologies are winning hearts and minds in high-end data centers (see Top Supercomputers Revealed).

Myricom had a sizeable presence on the most recent Top 500 list, thanks to its Myrinet interconnect technology, and Seitz now wants to go one better. “We will be looking to get a combination of Foundry switch and Myrinet NIC clusters onto the Top 500 as soon as we can,” he says. “We have some orders in hand to ship some 128 node clusters that might just make it onto the list.”But the goalposts for getting onto the Top 500 list are constantly moving. The bottom-ranked system on the most recent list was an unnamed U.S. government supercomputer capable of 1.166 Teraflops. Six months earlier, the same supercomputer would have clinched 299th position.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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