Arista Networks* has been a leader in the development of low latency 10GbE switches for the data center, utilizing Intel® Ethernet switch silicon. The company’s 7124SX switch is the lowest latency layer-3 10GbE switch in the industry, and they have now announced the 7124FX, which introduces a very clever new switch design to cater to the desires of their customers in the financial services industry (FSI) as well as other high performance computing applications.
Frame processing performance and latency are so critical in these applications, that traditional servers connected to the network through Ethernet controllers running communication software stacks don’t cut it any longer.
Arista has changed this by effectively embedding processing power in the network using an FPGA and CPU built into the 7124FX. In this way, packets can be inspected or modified as they fly through the switch at wire speed, minimizing the impact on latency as compared to a traditional network-adapter-server-adapter-network model. Financial trading companies can modify the FPGA code to implement their proprietary algorithms and a built-in atomic clock can be used to guarantee market fairness.
Intel Ethernet switching technology is at the heart of this new design. Not only do these 10GbE switches provide extremely low latency, they can maintain this latency while providing advanced L2-L4 forwarding features along with features such as data center bridging (DCB) and server virtualization support. In the 7124FX, Arista has creatively used an FPGA to add value, but in most designs FPGAs are used to implement network standards that are finalized after the switch design has been locked. Intel’s innovative FlexPipe™ frame processing pipeline is configured using microcode and can eliminate the need for external FPGAs in many advanced networking applications.