The 10-Gigabit horsepower shoot-out continued at Networld+Interop this week as Extreme Networks Inc. launched its next-generation switch platform capable of supporting full 10 Gig links.

Extreme demonstrated a prototype of its next-generation 10-Gigabit Ethernet technology, including its forthcoming chassis, codenamed "Mariner." The technology boasts higher port densities and better survivability than competitive boxes, the company says. Rivals Cisco Systems Inc., Enterasys Networks Inc. and Foundry Networks Inc. all announced 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches within the last month.

Mariner will be available in the third quarter of 2003. Extreme says the box is capable of supporting up to six 10-Gigabit Ethernet ports, or 60 1000Base-X ports per module slot. Six-port 10 Gigabit and 60-port Gigabit Ethernet blades were on hand at the company's booth.

The vendor also announced that its Fourth Generation Network Silicon System (4GNSS) switch architecture is at the heart of its 10-Gigabit Ethernet architecture. Its T-Flex "programmable ASIC" is able to change the functions of chips inside a switch after it is deployed.

Extreme says the new 4GNSS ASIC technology, supported by the Mariner chassis and blades, will allow users to add features through software upgrades while having those features run at wire-speed and ASIC-level performance. Such upgrades could include support for MPLS or IP version 6.

A production name for the Mariner chassis has not been set, and Extreme says the box represents a completely different product family from the company's present BlackDiamond platform. The company says the unpopulated chassis would cost "around US$50,000" when it becomes available. Extreme says it plans to have 10-Gigabit Ethernet blades available this fall for the chassis at around $8,000 per port