HP ProCurve has introduced a high-end core switch pitched against Cisco's Catalyst 6509 and 4507, and offered with a lifetime warranty.
Called the ProCurve Switch 8212zl, it supports up to 288 Gigabit ports, each with full Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), or up to 48 10G ports, and has high-availability features such as dual power supplies, and hot-swappable management and fabric modules.
According to John McHugh, ProCurve's worldwide general manager, the company is so sure of its reliability that it will give it a lifetime warranty. "That's a key thing in an industry where the standard warranty is 90 days," he said.
"The reason we can offer a lifetime warranty is our third-generation ProVision ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] that lets us implement a switch in two or three chips. We spent years designing this silicon, this generation alone took an investment of around $50 million."
He added that the lifetime warranty continues even if the switch is re-sold, and is designed to last for its useful service life of perhaps 12 to 15 years.
The new box is the first of a new family, but also has several elements in common with the existing 5400 and 3500 edge switches. These include the ProVision chip that actually does the switching, the same Ethernet line modules and power supplies, and the optional wireless edge services module (WESM) that gives the device the capabilities of a wireless switch.
"Compatibility means the blades you buy for your core are priced the same as the blades you buy for your stackable," and means you need only keep one lot of spares, McHugh said.
"This is a no-compromise box," he continued. "It has 692Gbit/s of capacity, and it has Sflow so it can watch all the traffic going through it."
The main difference between the 5400 and 8200 switches is that they have active and passive backplanes respectively, explained Paul Congdon, ProCurve's CTO. So where the ProVision fabric chips and management circuitry were built onto the 5400's backplane to save cost, in the 8200 they are on plug-in modules.
"The 5400 is a very cost-optimised product - we almost give that chassis away for free. You won't get an 8200 for free," Congdon said. "We have taken the active components off the backplane and put them onto cards, giving you the ability to swap them out, or upgrade them with higher-performance modules in the future."
McHugh said that ProCurve has already sold a hundred 8212zl switches, representing around 15,000 Ethernet ports, under non-disclosure agreements. One of the early customers is London's University of Westminster.
He added that ProCurve's business is growing twice as fast as the overall market for enterprise LAN switching, both worldwide and in Europe. It is now the number two in Europe with around 16 percent, according to market researcher Dell'Oro, although of course it is still a long way behind Cisco's 49 percent share.
ProCurve also announced a more powerful version of its WESM wireless switch blade, capable of working in 5300 and 5400-series switches as well as the 8212zl. Where the older model supported 48 thin access points - or radio ports, as HP calls them - the new one can support 156.
The 8212zl chassis is priced at £14,102, including dual redundant power supplies, fabric modules and management modules, but no line cards. It is a 9U rack-mount box with 12 slots for Ethernet or WESM boards.
Ethernet cards start from around £2145 for a 24-port Gig PoE card or £3124 for a four-port 10G card (excluding optical transceivers, if needed). A WESM with support for 12 radio ports lists for £3172, plus additional licence fees if you want to add more radios.