Woven Systems has announced a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch promising low-latency and reliability and a route to 100 Gigabit Ethernet.

"As servers become more powerful, they will need 10 Gig, but the switches on the market today are too expensive and are not optimised for datacentre operations," said Derek Granath, vice president of marketing for Woven Systems. The EFX 1000 and similar switches could give 10G Ethernet a central role in the datacentre, he said.

Current switches are based on old architectures and are not quite designed to be part of a fabric, said Granath. They also have high latency (which means supporting data transfers with costly large memory buffers), an expensive price per port, and high energy consumption, he said.

By contrast, the EFX 1000 will cost 80 percent less than similarly configured competitors and have just as moderate energy and space requirements, said Granath. The new switch deploys innovative technology that can maintain wire speed transfers when fully configured with 144 10Gb ports. As for those 100Gb claims, when it begins shipping the EFX 1000, it should be able to support up to 96 ports on the same chassis, according to a Woven Systems spokesperson.

The switch has multiple redundant power supply modules and cooling fans in 10 units of rack space, plus the ability to mount up to 12 cards, each hosting a dozen 10 Gb ports. It should be able to control a fabric of 4,000 ports, keeping the external latency at or below 4 microseconds. The latency is even less for internal ports, coming in at 1.5 microseconds. Each card has three proprietary Application-Specific Integrated Circuits that can divert data to an alternate route within 10 milliseconds, if there is a link failure or even a slowdown on the primary path.

The EFX 1000's expected price is £750 per port, and is compatible with other gear, including 10Gb switches from other vendors.