HP ProCurve's switches are rocketing, literally. The company has announced that a ProCurve 2500 is now up and running on the International Space Station.

The news of a switch in space came as HP launched a new range of its 'adaptive edge' switches. These feature Power-over-Ethernet as standard, plus an ASIC called ProVision which incorporates dual ARM-based network processors.

The ASIC enables these latest switches to do in hardware what previous ProCurve models could only do in software, said Amol Mitra, ProCurve's global marketing director.

He added that the ProVision chip would enable an edge switch to carry out policy enforcement, access control and deep packet inspection on Gigabit traffic at wirespeed, the latter in turn allowing it to do virus scanning or intrusion detection and prevention.

"The ASIC is capable of looking into a packet beyond the header and right up to the application level, all managed centrally by our ProCurve Manager platform," he said. "ProCurve Manager can look at events and trigger actions, for example to make the network self-defending and adaptive to threats."

He added that while this is analogous to Cisco's SDN or Enterasys' UPN, the difference is that ProCurve's version is identity-driven.

Among the new models are the chassis-based ProCurve Switch 5300 and stackable Switch 3500 for edge connectivity, the Switch 6200 for aggregation and core switching, and the hybrid chassis/stackable Switch 4200, providing relatively cheap switching for wiring closets.

"We are offering Layer 3/4 switches at a Layer 2 price," claimed Mitra. He said that the 5300 and 3500 would cost from €110 per port when they ship in April. The 5400 can have as many as 288 PoE Gigabit ports in its largest configuration, plus an optional four-port 10Gig module for uplinks.

"The timing is perfect - the hottest growth area in the LAN market is Gigabit PoE," said IDC analyst Peter Hulleman. He added though that ProCurve's price advantage is likely to be short-lived: "It is crucial for Cisco to respond - it has been getting a very high premium for Gigabit and PoE."

Priced from €1109, the ProCurve 4200 has various models offering fixed 10/100 or Gigabit ports, plus slots to add more modules of various speeds. The ProCurve 6200 will be €5499 for a unit with 24 media-flexible Gigabit slots, each one able to accept any type of mini-GBIC module, and an optional four-port flexible 10G card, so you can add fibre or copper connections as needed.

Lastly, HP ProCurve said it will add a wirespeed 10Gig card for its 8100 fabric switch, which derives from its purchase of Riverstone Networks. This card too is media-flexible, accepting X2-format modules for SR, LR or ER fibre , or CX4 copper.

All the new products include ProCurve's lifetime warranty, which Mitra contrasted with Cisco's standard 90-day warranty.

Does that also apply to the 2500 aboard the ISS if an engineer is needed? "We've a rocket on standby," he joked.