Juniper targets key new switch directly at Cisco Nexus 6000

Juniper Networks is expected to soon announce a new QFabric switch for top-of-rack applications that supports Broadcom’s Trident II silicon for dense 10/40G Ethernet capabilities and competes directly with Cisco’s Nexus 6000.

Juniper is expected to tout throughput, latency, power consumption and table entry benefits of the QFX5100 over the Nexus 6001, sources say.

Specifically, the QFX5100 switch is said by sources to include 48×1/10G + 6x40G, 96x10G + 8x40G, and 24x40G with two expansion slots for 4x40G module variations. QFX5100 is also said to have latency improvements over previous generation QFX switches, the QFX 3500 and 3600, which average sub-microsecond latencies.

Support for Broadcom’s new Trident II silicon, which many in the industry – including Cisco’s Insieme spin-in and Arista Networks – are building new switches on, means QFX5100 will be optimized for 10/40G and have inherent support for the VXLAN specification for VLAN scaling. Co-authored by Broadcom, VXLAN is intended to scale VLANs from 4,094 to 16 million to accommodate the exploding number of virtual machines in the virtualized data center.

Broadcom’s Trident II chip is designed to support up to 32 40G Ethernet ports and 100+ 10G ports. Ports on the QFX5100 can be configured and channelized to support up to 32x40G or 104x10G, source say.

And as expected, QFX5100 will support Virtual Chassis capabilities via Junos release 13.2X50. Up to 10 member switches can be configured into a Virtual Chassis and managed as a single switch, with increased fault tolerance and high-availability, and a flatter Layer 2 topology designed to minimize or eliminate the need for Spanning Tree and other protocols.

The capability may also allow users to configure smaller fabric “pods” without the need for a QFabric Interconnect device. Indeed, Virtual Chassis will also work on existing QFX 3500 and 3600 switches with the new Junos release but only if the switches are in standalone mode – not as nodes in a QFabric.

Sources say the Virtual Chassis capability will usher in a new Virtual Chassis Fabric (VCF) architecture from Juniper that allows a 20-node mix of QFX5100, 3500 and 3600s, and Juniper EX4300 switches to form a data center fabric without a QFabric Interconnect. As such, VCF is a fabric alternative to QFabric, they say.

The Virtual Chassis capability was expected. The pods VCF produces could be interconnected for scale with Juniper’s new EX9200 switch, Juniper Senior Vice President Jonathan Davidson said last spring.

The 48×1/10G QFX5100 will be available this quarter. The other variations will be available in the first quarter of 2014. Virtual Chassis will also be available in the first quarter of 2014.

VXLAN gateway and Cloudstack integration will be available later in 2014, sources say.

Juniper declined comment.