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Arista spine hardware aimed at largest data centers

Arista has introduced the 7500R series -- a suite of third-generation spine hardware that has a maximum capacity of 115 Tbps.

Arista Networks has introduced high-capacity routers that will compete with Cisco and Juniper Networks for the business of the largest cloud and Internet service providers.

The 7500R is the first product series marketed as a "Universal Spine," which means the spine hardware has enough horsepower for Internet peering and other uses outside of the typical spine-leaf data center topology, according to Arista. The series includes the 7500R line card that fits into three chassis models that deliver a maximum of 1,728 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or 432 ports of 100 GbE. The 100 GbE ports also support 25, 40 and 50 GbE.

The highest-performing spine hardware in the series, the 7512R, is a 12-slot, 18 RU chassis with a maximum capacity of 115 Tbps and a top packet-forwarding rate of 51.8 billion packets per second. The maximum buffer memory is 288 GB.

Less beefy models are the 4-slot 7504R and 8-slot 7508R, which have a maximum system capacity of 37.5 Tbps and 75 Tbps, respectively. Broadcom's latest application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), dubbed Jericho, powers the whole series.

Arista has released the 7504R and the 7508R, with plans to ship the 7512R in the third quarter. Pricing for the series starts at $3,000 per 100 GbE port.

The 7500R is the third generation of the 7500 series of switches introduced in 2010. Three years later, Arista launched the second-generation 7500E, which it designed for data center spines and backbones.

Arista FlexRoute

Arista targets the latest generation at companies with hyper-scale data centers that have massive amounts of traffic. To meet the needs of those organizations, Arista has added technology that the vendor calls FlexRoute.

FlexRoute makes it possible for the hardware to forward more than 1 million IPv4 and IPv6 route prefixes using the Broadcom ASIC, which wouldn't be able to achieve that on its own, said Martin Hull, senior director of product management at Arista. FlexRoute works in conjunction with Arista's Extensible Operating System (EOS), which handles communications with the chip.

"If you look at Jericho as a standard chip, it doesn't support full Internet-scale forwarding," Hull said.

FlexRoute makes it possible to use the spine hardware as the router tier that sits on top of a spine-leaf data center topology or as the hardware Internet service providers use to exchange traffic with other ISPs -- a process called peering.

Internet companies, such as Facebook and Microsoft, make up a significant portion of Arista's overall revenue. For example, Microsoft accounted for 12% of Arista's revenue in 2015.

Some financial analysts believe network hardware designs under development by the Open Compute Project (OCP), which Facebook started in 2011 to develop open source technology for hyper-scale data centers, could take business away from Arista. Microsoft, which is an OCP member, and Facebook are developing open switching software within the project.  

Arista competes with Cisco, Juniper and Nokia (formerly Alcatel-Lucent) in selling spine hardware to companies with data centers that have tens of thousands -- and sometimes hundreds of thousands -- of servers.

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