Pica8 doubles flow rule capacity in its new OpenFlow 1.3 switch

Pica8 introduced a new OpenFlow 1.3 switch that doubles the flow-table memory of its previous switches from 4,000 to 8,000 OpenFlow rules.

Pica8 revealed a new white box OpenFlow switch that doubles the number of OpenFlow rules its previous switches have been able to store in flow tables.

The P-3297 is based on Broadcom's Trident+ network chip and it supports OpenFow 1.3. Pica8 worked with Broadcom to double the TCAM capacity on the Trident+ chips to increase the number of flow rules the switch can store from 4,000 to 8,000.

"We have people using 4,000 flow-counts in production, but there are applications -- especially in the more virtualized environments -- that require more flows," said Steve Garrison vice president of marketing at Pica8.

The increased flow capacity is an improvement and it will help Pica8 extend the use cases they can support with SDN, said Brad Casemore, research director at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC. "It's one of those things where it's ongoing progressions," he said. "It's still a really young technology."

Broadcom's willingness to add TCAM memory to its Trident+ chips could indicate that Pica8 and its manufacturing partners have a significant commitment from a customer willing to buy the P-3297, Casemore said.

Pica8 is primarily an SDN software and services company. It has developed an Openflow-capable network operating system based on Linux and PicOS, which customers can boot up on white box switches produced by original design manufacturers (ODMs). Pica8 has designed several switches, including the P-3297, and has established partnerships with several ODMs to help customers buy switches based on those designs.

The P-3297 is available now for $4,690. The unidentified ODM who is building the switch for Pica8 is doing so under a nondisclosure agreement (NDA). Customers who want to buy the switch will have to enter an NDA with the ODM.

Garrison said the ODM is requiring an NDA with customers because it doesn't want to disrupt separate manufacturing relationships it has with OEM vendors.

Like other Pica8 switches, the P-3297 supports Layer 2 and Layer 3 protocols in addition to OpenFlow 1.3 and Open vSwitch 2.0. This gives customers the ability to integrate both virtual and physical networks and both OpenFlow and traditional networks.

That ability to support hybrid networks will be important as enterprises and service providers continue to trial and test SDN with switches from companies like Pica8.

"They're providing that testing ground where people can deploy [SDN] and see what it can do," said Tracy Corbo, principal research analyst with Boulder, Colo.-based Enterprise Management Associates.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, news director or follow him on Twitter @ShamusTT

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