Extreme Networks has joined the push for 10 Gigabit data centre networks. The company has started shipping the Summit X650, a 24 to 32-port stackable switch designed to fit in server racks and interconnect either fast servers or Gigabit switches.

The X650 runs the same ExtremeXOS operating system and uses the same stacking technology as its other switches, allowing any combination of 10/100, Gigabit and 10Gig switches to be seamlessly managed together, said Paul Phillips, Extreme's director for UK and Ireland.

The new switch has 24 SFP+ slots, so as well as short and long-range fibre optic modules it can also support SFP+ Direct Attach modules for relatively low-cost 10Gig copper networking. Intended for short-range applications within the server rack and the data centre, Direct Attach uses twin-axial cables up to 10m long.

Up to eight more 10Gig SFP+ slots or Gigabit SFP slots can be added via Extreme's Versatile Interface Modules, which go into the back of the switch. The VIM can also add stacking ports - initial VIM models support up to 40Gbit/s of stack bandwidth, with 256Gbit/s and 512Gbit/s versions on the way.

Phillips said that up to eight X650 switches can be stacked together as a virtual chassis, for a total of 256 ports. He added though that the main aim is to make it cheaper and simpler to upgrade to a 10Gig core while protecting existing network investments - the new switch runs the same OS as all Extreme's others, so the management is the same.

Early users agreed that they found this interoperability particularly useful. "After testing the Summit X650, we have found that it would be a perfect fit for a number of drop points in our metro area network," said Glen Rutherford, the chief network architect for the US state of North Dakota.

"The Summit X650's ability to seamlessly integrate into our existing Summit X450 and Summit X250 stacks will make our upcoming metro fibre enhancements a much easier task."

An X650 with 24 SFP+ slots, four Gigabit SFP slots and two stack ports lists for $21,000 (around £14,500); the SFP+ line-modules are extra. Extreme added that a 24-port 10GBase-T version is under development, with an expected price of $25,000 (£17,300).