Diggin' technology every day

March 9, 2010


Filed under: Networking — Tags: — Nate @ 9:42 am

I was just watching some of my daily morning dose of CNBC and they had all these headlines about how Cisco was going to make some earth shattering announcement(“Change the internet forever”), and then the announcement hit, some new CRS-1 router, that claimed 12x faster performance than the competition. So naturally I was curious. Robert Paisano on the floor of the NYSE was saying how amazing it was that the router could download the library of congress in 1 second(he probably didn’t understand the router would have no place to put it).

If I want a high end router that means I’m a service provider and in that case my personal preference would be for Foundry Networks (now Brocade). Juniper makes good stuff too of course though honestly I am not nearly as versed in their technology. Granted I’ll probably never work for such a company as those companies are really big and I prefer small companies.

But in any case wanted to illustrate (another) point. According to Cisco’s own site, their fastest single chassis system has a mere 4.48 terrabits of switching capacity. This is called the CRS-3, which I don’t even see listed as a product on their site, perhaps it’s yet to come. The biggest, baddest product they have on their site right now is a 16-slot CRS-1. This according to their own site, has a total switching capacity of a paltry 1.2Tbps, and even worse a per-slot capacity of 40Gbps (hello 2003).

So take a look at the Foundry Networks (the Brocade name makes me shudder, I have never liked them) , their NetIron XMR series. From their documentation the “total switching fabric”, ranges from 960 gigabits on the low end to 7.68 terrabits on the high end. Switch forwarding capacity ranges from 400 gigabits to 3.2 terrabits. This comes out to 120 gigabits of full duplex switch fabric per slot (same across all models). While I haven’t been able to determine precisely how long XMR has been on the market I have found evidence that it is at least nearly 3 years old.

To put it in another perspective, in a 48U rack with the new CRS-3 you can get 4.48 terrabits of switching fabric(1 chassis is 48U). With Foundry in the same rack you can get one XMR32k and one XMR16k(combined size 47U) for a total of 11.52 terrabits of switching fabric. More than double the fabric in the same space, from a product that is 3 years old. And as you can imagine in the world of IT, 3 years is a fairly significant amount of time.

And while I’m here and talking about Foundry and Brocade take a look at this from Brocade, it’s funny it’s like something I would write. Compares the Brocade Director switches vs Cisco (“Numbers don’t lie”). One of my favorite quotes:

To ensure accuracy, Brocade hired an independent electrician to test both the Brocade 48000 and the Cisco MDS 9513 and found that the 120 port Cisco configuration actually draws 1347 watts, 45% higher than Cisco’s claim of 931 watts. In fact, an empty 9513 draws more electrical current (5.6 amps) than a fully-populated 384 port Brocade 48000 (5.2 amps). Below is Brocade’s test data. Where are Cisco’s verified results?


With 33% more bandwidth per slot (64Gb vs 48Gb), three times as much overall bandwidth (1.5Tb vs 0.5 Tb) and a third the power draw, the Brocade 48000 is a more scalable building block, regardless of the scale, functionality or lifetime of the fabric. Holistically or not, Brocade can match the “advanced functionality” that Cisco claims, all while using far less power and for a much [?? I think whoever wrote it was in a hurry]

That’s just too funny.


  1. You’re comparing apples to oranges. The XMR should be compared to the Nexus 7000 which has over 15Tbps of capacity. I don’t think Brocade/Foundry have anything similar to a CRS-3. Totally different boxes.

    Comment by Dacid — March 17, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

  2. I don’t agree, the XMR is a router, the Nexus is a switch. BigIron is a switch line, NetIron is a router line. Similar hardware architectures, significantly different roles though.

    Comment by Nate — March 17, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

  3. It’s not that simple. What is the market share of XMR with the SP customers that buy CRS and Juniper for their core? Zero? No SP would put an XMR in their core.

    Comment by Dacid — March 17, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

  4. Uhuh.

    Comment by Nate — March 17, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

  5. oh I’m sorry but my eyes sort of gloss over when people start touting market share, to me it’s a really meaningless stat. Frequently the smaller players have the better gear, and at the very least they almost always have the best value. But I understand at bigger orgs they follow the “nobody got fired for buying IBM” mentality, which is one reason why I refuse to work for such companies 🙂

    I remember Foundry themselves(ironically), or one particular local rep(who doesn’t work for them anymore) tried that tactic with me 6 years ago..turned me off to them for a while as a result.

    Comment by Nate — March 17, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

  6. Wow. What can I say. Market share doesn’t matter? How else do you pay for next generation R&D? Ask Cabletron, Bay, and Fore what market share means. I’ll add Brocade/foundry to that list in a few years.

    Comment by Dacid — March 17, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

  7. Point was you don’t have to have a big market share to be successful. Most of the ethernet switching vendors for example are in single digit share and do fine, and still come with great products.

    Comment by Nate — March 17, 2010 @ 5:34 pm

  8. well, then those small companies are swallowed (acquired) and integrated into those products to make it better or at least as it seems to me.

    Comment by Diablo — March 4, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  9. I agree with Dacid. You are not comparing apples to apples. Cisco’s CRS-3 now has over 322 Tbps of of capacity.

    Comment by comment — April 4, 2011 @ 8:16 am

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