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Data Center

It’s Bigger on the Inside

by lcaywood on ‎09-11-2012 11:07 PM - last edited on ‎10-28-2013 05:37 PM by bcm1 (2,274 Views)

Tech vendors love to tout bigness, so let me introduce the newest addition to our Ethernet fabric portfolio, the VDX 8770, by getting that out of the way first.


  • Over 8000 server ports per fabric
  • More than 384,000 MACs and 128,000 ARP
  • 3.5 microsecond documented latency
  • 4 Tbps line-rate backplane design
  • 100G-ready--you can do 100G uplinks from your access tier if you so desire (or 10, or 40)
  • All while burning 8W per 10G port (loaded)


Exciting numbers on their own, but they get more interesting when put in the context of the VCS fabric architecture. VCS was designed to better support east-west traffic, so we implemented it at the access tier to eliminate the extra hops and burden on core switches that are associated with the traditional 3-tier design. We also understood very clearly that when people are trying new types of technology, they tend to like to start small--perhaps with a small pod or two--in order to get comfortable with it, and then scale out from there. And indeed, with some 700 VDX customers’ fabric experiences solidly in hand, it was time to deliver a scale-out modular platform.


VCS Fabric technology doesn’t dictate topology in any way, so it’s entirely possible to mix and match the fixed-configuration and modular VDX switches as needed to optimize for cost, port density, fabric scale or other factors. In some cases, it may be desirable to implement a multi-fabric design; it can be managed just as easily as a single fabric through Brocade Network Advisor. Design options are described in a bit more detail here.


Along with the platform scale of the VDX 8770, we’ve implemented Layer 3 capabilities in VCS Fabric technology. There are no design limits on the number of gateways (we’ve tested 4 per fabric for the NOS 3.0 release), and they can be implemented on any node in a fabric. This allows Layer 2 domains to scale out without being constrained by gateway access, and further improves traffic efficiency by reducing traffic tromboning. You can read more about this in the Brocade VCS Fabric Technical Architecture Brief, starting on p. 35.




Effectively what this means is that you can build a smaller Ethernet fabric than you might expect, in terms of the number of switches…and cabling…and power…All-active links and gateways, and the ability to contain much of your east-west traffic within the fabric make it “bigger on the inside”.