Mellanox unveils Spectrum-2 switches with Ethernet Cloud Fabric technology

May 20, 2019
Mellanox contends that its ECF technology allows users to quickly build and simply deploy state-of-the-art public and private cloud data centers with improved efficiency and manageability.

Mellanox (NASDAQ: MLNX) has unveiled its Ethernet Cloud Fabric (ECF) technology, as embodied by its Spectrum-2 line of 100/200/400 Gb/s Ethernet switches. Spectrum-2 extends the capabilities of the company's first generation of Spectrum based Ethernet switches, which are deployed in thousands of data centers around the world.

Mellanox notes that its Spectrum switch enables IT managers to achieve superior performance and efficiency for 10GbE infrastructures and higher, and to effectively and economically migrate from 10 to 25, 50, and 100 Gb/s speeds. The company cites Spectrum switch's capabilities as recently highlighted in a Tolly test report, which demonstrated superior performance versus competitor products. The company emphasizes that Spectrum-2 switch maintains the same API as original Spectrum - Open SDK/SAI API or Linux upstream driver (Switchdev) - and supports a range of network operating systems. 

“Mellanox is a long-term trusted partner of Cumulus, and we’re excited to partner with them once again to enable customers with Linux-based environments to build an agile, high performance and highly-automated infrastructure,” noted Josh Leslie, CEO of Cumulus Networks. He added, “Spectrum-2 will be able to run a massive spine complete with features – twice as fast as before – and will enable twice as many breakouts. As the best, most-deployed, and most-strategic software stack, Cumulus Linux and the second generation of Spectrum will be an important piece on the chessboard in the quest for data center dominance.” 

In its product announcement, the company emphasized that its Mellanox SN3000 family of Ethernet switches are built on the Spectrum-2 switch ASIC to provide 1GbE through 400GbE Ethernet connectivity, and enable a rich set of enhanced capabilities. These advanced features along with increased flexibility and port density enable creation of a variety of switch platforms, optimized for cloud, hyperscale, enterprise data center, big data, artificial intelligence, financial, and storage workloads, among others. “The Spectrum-2 switch ASIC operates at speeds up to 400 Gigabit Ethernet, but goes beyond just raw performance by delivering the most advanced features of any switch in its class without compromising operation ability and simplicity,” contends Amir Prescher, senior vice president of end user sales and business development at Mellanox Technologies. 

Mellanox originally announced its Spectrum 2 switch in London on July 6, 2017.

Prescher continued, “Spectrum-2 enables a new era of Ethernet Cloud Fabrics designed to increase business continuity by delivering the most advanced visibility capabilities to detect and eliminate data center outages. This state-of-the-art visibility technology is combined with fair and predictable performance unmatched in the industry, which guarantees consistent application level performance, which in turn drives predictable business results for our customers. Spectrum-2 is at the heart a new family of SN3000 switches that come in leaf, spine, and super-spine form factors.” 

Per Mellanox, the new ECF technology essentially combines three critical capabilities: an industry-leading packet forwarding data plane; an agile, fully programmable data pipeline; open, actionable telemetry fully integrated for instant insights. ECF also fully incorporates the company's Ethernet Storage Fabric (ESF) technology, which seamlessly allows the network to serve as the scale-out data plane for computing, storage, artificial intelligence, and communications traffic. The ECF technology also embraces Open Ethernet platforms that disaggregate hardware and software.  

Mellanox contends that its ECF technology allows users to quickly build and simply deploy state-of-the-art public and private cloud data centers with improved efficiency and manageability. “Data center customers are looking to significantly increase the Ethernet switch bandwidth in their networks while simultaneously raising the requirements for overlay-based network agility and fully-integrated visibility,” asserts Sameh Boujelbene, Senior Director at technology industry analyst the Dell’Oro Group. “25 GbE and 100 GbE adoption continues to accelerate outside of the large cloud service providers. We predict 25 and 100 GbE combined sales to rise 50% over the next two years. Spectrum-2 addresses this transition.” 

The Spectrum-2 based switches are available with network operating systems including Mellanox Onyx, Cumulus Linux, SONiC, and Linux SwitchDev. The company holds that the Spectrum-2 switch’s "innovative design and flexible data path allows IT managers to fully optimize their networks for business specific workloads to maximize data center return on investment." Additionally, Mellanox contends that "the Spectrum-2 switch delivers unmatched power efficiency when compared to alternative offerings, improving data center total cost of ownership." 

The Spectrum-2 based SN3000 family of switch systems with ECF technology from Mellanox will be available in Q3.

Mellanox says its Spectrum-2 switches with ECF enable data center architects to achieve the highest levels of performance, flexibility and advanced visualization capabilities to improve operational efficiency. A summary of product highlights and key features per the company is as follows: 

Industry-leading Packet Forwarding Data Plane 

8.33 Billion Packets per second – Fastest in its class 

42MB Monolithic and fully shared packet buffer to provide high bandwidth and low-latency cut-through performance

Robust RoCE Datapath to enable hardware accelerated data movement for Ethernet Storage Fabric and Machine Learning applications

Half a million flexible forwarding entries to support large Layer-2 and Layer-3 networks

Up to 2 Million routes with external memory to address Internet Peering use cases

128-way ECMP with support for flowlet based Adaptive Routing

Hardware-based Network Address Translation

500K+ Access Control List entries for micro-segmentation and cloud scale whitelist policies

500K+ VXLAN Tunnels, 10K+ VXLAN VTEPs to provide caveat-free Network Virtualization

Agile, flexible and fully programmable data pipeline

Comprehensive support for VXLAN overlays including single pass VXLAN routing and bridging

Centralized VXLAN routing for brown field environments

Support for other overlay protocols including EVPN, VXLAN-GPE, MPLS-over-GRE/UDP, NSH, NVGRE, MPLS/IPv6 based Segment routing and more

Future-proofing with programmable pipeline that can support new, custom and emerging protocols

Uncompromising performance with hardware optimized stages that accelerate traditional as well as virtualized network functions

Advanced modular data plane and integrated container support enables extensibility and flexibility to add customized and application specific capabilities

Fully Integrated, Open and Actionable Telemetry

10X reduction in mean time to resolution by providing a rich set of contextual and actionable Layer 1-4 “What Just Happened” telemetry insights

Hardware based packet buffer tracking and data summarization using histograms

More than 500K flow tracking counters

Open and Extensible platform to facilitate integration and customization with 3rd party and open source visualization tools

Support for traditional visibility tools including sFlow, Streaming and In-band telemetry

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