Allied Telesis has claimed that companies should be introducing edge switches that include 10Gig as standard. The company made that claim as it launched its latest edge switches, which it said were the first to include slots for XFP 10Gig optics at no extra cost.

The AT-9400Ts series includes 24 and 48-port 10/100/1000 Layer 3 switches, each with two built-in slots for XFP optics. Other models in the voice and video-enabled family include four 10Gig slots or none, and all are stackable, Allied said.

Other switch manufacturers - even those which promote themselves as champions of 10Gig - require customers to buy and install an extra module containing the 10Gig electronics before they can install XFPs, said Melvyn Wray, Allied's European marketing SVP.

He said that as more organisations roll Gigabit to the desktop, and with more and more PCs Gigabit-capable, the need for 10Gig uplinks is growing. He claimed that, as a result, we are at a tipping point in the evolution of 10Gig, where it becomes cheaper to include it as standard than to build and stock a separate module.

"Even with the high price of 10Gig, sales are taking off now," he said. "Of our 10Gig-capable switches, probably 10 percent are using it today - that's grown from nothing in a couple of years, and we're hoping this will take it further."

It varies hugely by manufacturer, but a module for two XFP uplinks can add as much as £2000 to the price of a Gigabit switch. By comparison, Allied's XFP-slotted 48-port AT-9448Ts/XP is £3000, and its 24-port AT-9424Ts/XP is £1650.

There is also the cost of the XFP optics to consider. While Allied asks £2000 for a single-mode LR transceiver capable of supporting 10km links, others charge rather less - D-Link's Nick Bharadia said his equivalent lists at just over £1000, for example. Wray said he would re-visit Allied's pricing on these items.

In any case, the 10Gig capability is still not free, of course - the 48-port AT-9448T/SP, which has four SFP ports for Gigabit uplinks instead of the two XFP slots, is just £2225.

(Plus, none of the AT-9400 switches supports Power-over-Ethernet. Wray said that PoE versions are under development.)

He said that the extra £800-odd represents the cost of the physical components needed for 10Gig - the PHY and MAC. "It used to be you needed three chips to do 10Gig," he said. "Now we're getting silicon on the market with 10Gig in a single chip."

And he added that - as long as you sell enough switches - it's still cheaper than having to build a separate module with its plug-in connector, add an equivalent connector to the switch, and so on.