Friday, July 20, 2012

New 10Gb/s Interconnect Options

Followers of this blog, or folks who've heard me on the Packet Pushers Podcast may have noticed that I obsessively look for less expensive ways to interconnect data center devices.

That's because the modules are so expensive! A loaded Nexus 7010 is intimidating enough with it's $473,000 list price, but that's without any optic modules...

If we want to link those interfaces to something with 10GBASE SR modules then triple the budget because the optics cost twice as much as the switch:

$1495 / module * 8 blades * 48 links / blade * 2 modules / link = $1,148,160

By comparison, purchasing the same amount of links in 5m Twinax form comes in under $100,000.

So, there tend to be a lot of TwinAx and FET modules in my designs, and the equipment is located carefully to ensure that ~$200 TwinAx links can be used rather than ~$3,000 fiber links.

The tradeoff comes when you put a lot of 5m Twinax cables into one place and quickly find they're not much fun to work with because they're not bendy and because they're thick. That's why I'm so interested in something I noticed yesterday on Cisco's 10GBASE SFP+ Modules Data Sheet:

No word on pricing yet, but "cost-effective" sounds promising since they're positioning this cable directly alongside the Twinax option. Also no word on support by various devices. My hope is that systems which currently support only passive TwinAx cables will be able to use the longer 7m and 10m AOCs.

Also new to the data sheet are some 1.5m, 2m and 2.5m TwinAx cables. Nothing groundbreaking here, but these will be nice options to have. It's annoying to deal with a 3m cable when 1m won't quite reach from one rack to the next.


  1. HP does not support cisco sfp+.

  2. Or you could by optics from an OEM reseller (as opposed to a rebadger like Cisco) and they're roughly 1/10th that price.

  3. Agreed, the pricing on Cisco optics is ridiculous. I'm comfortable with 'service unsupported-transceiver' (or using modules with bogus ROMs) and then doing my own sparing, but my customers? Not so much.

    For the most part, they'd prefer to spend that $1M on optics instead of installing a single non-Cisco module.

    My job often boils down to helping them make the best decisions within the confines of the vendor support ecosystem, because that's where they want to be. And then sometimes I blog about it :)

  4. We just tested a product called Laserwire from Finisar:

    The complete link costs the same as buying just one typical SFP+ optic.

    We just tested this between two 5596UPs and that worked fine with 'service unsupported-transceiver'. Next up is some various access switches we use.

  5. Interesting, thanks for the pointer.

    These are pretty nifty. And cheap!

    Here's hoping that HP/Cisco/etc... bless them with an entry on their interoperability lists...