For users that have been following our recent coverage of Aquantia’s new multi-gigabit Ethernet solutions for consumers, the AQtion AQC107 and AQC108 controllers (along with their corresponding PCIe cards), the running theme through all of the >1 Gb Ethernet standards on RJ-45 has been the availability of switches. There are plenty of enthusiasts that would happily upgrade their home network infrastructure to something bigger than gigabit ethernet if there was a realistic price alternative. Current 10GBase-T solutions, for example, can cost >$150 per port for the systems and >$100 per port for the switch, whereas gigabit ethernet is ~$2-5 per port. Aquantia is hoping to break that mould, and showed some of the systems that related partners are moving towards working.

I should state at this point that what was on display was early prototypes – Aquantia is working with ODMs and OEMs on getting the fundamentals of such switches right first, before those partners actually coming to market. Aside from the slew of typical enterprise players showing enterprise switches, Aquantia wasn’t prepared to state on record who they are partnering with in the consumer space for switches, although we were told so suspect the usual suspects. Any information we got from the meeting today we were told was expected to be preliminary and non-final, with potentially large differences between now and final products.

All that being said, we were told that Aquantia  is working on three main solutions for ODMs to look into: a 4-port solution, an 5-port solution, and an 8-port solution. The heart of these platforms is Aquantia silicon supporting four ports, with the 5-port switch version using a 4-port plus 1-port silicon design. The models on display, and used as the top image in this news piece, were done in collaboration with Cameo, who will be one of the first vendors (if not the first) to come to market with a product.


An older reference design

Aquantia demonstrated basic iPerf performance over the network using the switch in 10G mode with two Aquantia AQC107 add-in cards between two systems, showing 9.5G bandwidth in a basic test. The demo switch that was being used was not a final version by any means, in terms of looks and noise levels (it was overengineered for the demo), but this is something Aquantia expects OEMs to address rapidly.

Naturally, we asked about pricing of the switches and availability. With the aforementioned caveats, we were told that the switch vendors themselves will be the ones dictating pricing. That being said, after suggesting that pricing in the region of $250-$300 for an 8-port switch that supports Aquantia 10G solutions (so likely 5GBase-T and 2.5GBase-T as well) would be great, we were told that this was likely a good estimate. Previously in this price range, options were limited to a sole provider: ASUS’ XG-U1008, a switch with two 10GBase-T ports and six one-gigabit Ethernet ports for $200. Above that, some Netgear solutions were running almost $800 for an 8-port managed solution. So moving to eight full 10G ports in this price bracket would be amazing, and I told Aquantia to tell OEMs that at that price ($~30 per port), those switches will fly off the shelves with enthusiasts who want to upgrade.

Given the early nature of the designs on show, discussions on availability are expected to happen later this year, although Aquantia is likely to let partners announce their own products and time scales for the roll-outs. 

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  • CaedenV - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    link aggregation is not what it is cracked up to be. Still useful... just not quite what most people think it is.

    So at work I have 2 VM servers with 4 1gig ports on back set up as a LAG to a fancy Cisco switch. That is 4gbps of throughput available per switch. Go to transfer a VM between them and... 1gbps throughput. The added benefit is that the servers and switch will load balance that connection, so I can get that 1gbps mostly undisturbed while my users hammer away at my servers. But having 1gbps connection still means I only get 1gbps of throughput between machines... I can just do 4 machines instead of 1.

    And for most use-cases that is fine. Sure, it eats up ports like crazy... but 1gig port space is cheap these days, so that isnt a big deal. But at home I do a bit of AV editing on the side. I would like to do it on my NAS with it's nice big storage space available... but I cant. 1gbps is not quite fast enough for modern low-compression 1080p multi-layer video editing. Almost fast enough, but not quite. So I move files to my local SSDs, do my work, and then render to the NAS. Link aggregation does not fix this. I could set up a dedicated 2 or 4 gbps fiber link between my desktop and server... but even that is expensive, and 10gig is dropping like crazy. I think I will just wait for the 10gig and move over all at once rather than a small step now, and a big step to 10gig a few years down the road.
    Reply
  • Guspaz - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    $120-150 for a 4-port 10gig switch and $30-50 for PCIe adapters? I'd be all over that. Reply
  • dgingeri - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    The cards are still running $250+ right now. I doubt they'll get much cheaper for a while. Better to look at SFP based cards, like the Intel X520. The switches aren't much more expensive, and the cards are way cheaper. Plus, the cables are much smaller and much easier to work with. Reply
  • Morawka - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    yeah but you can't make your own cables with sfp unless you got a 3 grand fusion spicer Reply
  • dgingeri - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    Well, yeah, but when you can get a 2m cable for under $10, why would you bother with making your own? Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    Huh. The Intel x520-DA1 + cable is only $120 CDN on ebay.ca. That's a lot less expensive than I was thinking it would be. Only $200 CDN for the DA2 version with 2 cables.

    Have no need for 10Gbe at home right now, but prices have certainly come down a lot from even just last year.
    Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    Click the links in the news. Single port Aquantia cards for sub $130 incoming. Reply
  • nils_ - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - link

    That depends on the type of cable you use. The direct attach copper cables are pretty unwieldy. Reply
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    I would also be eager to setup my home networking 10GBase-T as my ethernet runs aren't in wall but just consolidated to my home office (where any cabling upgrade is a non-issue) and where I would benefit from increased throughput to-and-from my NAS.

    Common use case is loading games. Each of my 3 PCs in the house that have Steam all link to a SteamApps library installed onto the NAS volume, as a drive letter. Makes it a lot less of a hassle to update game titles concurrently throughout the house. Additionally, also used for gameplay recordings, etc.

    Anyways, my only questions on this solution is:

    1) Is Aquantia-based networking robust enough? Intel NICs being the current gold standard, where even Realtek, Killer, and other branded NICs have some issues with latency, packet dropping, features, etc. I'm not sure if Aquantia NICs are worth taking the plunge now, or waiting for better 10GBase-T offerings from Intel.

    2) How is the noise on the switch? I see FOUR 3-pin fan headers onboard, and that gives me the sinking feeling that noise-wise, it's not much better than the current (expensive) Netgear XS708Ev2 which runs at 36.7 dBA at favorable room temperatures. https://www.netgear.com/business/products/switches...

    If it's that loud, then I won't be biting. Small 40mm fans don't push much air at all even at high RPM and just create more noise than they do heat transfer. It still surprises me how we go from passively cooled 24port 1GbE switches to needing (potentially loud) active cooling for even a 4port 10GbE switch.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    There're actually 6 fan headers (2 more on the bottom in addition to the 4 on the right). OTOH these are R&D prototype boards so I'd be hesitant to drawn any conclusions from them; to keep costs down on something that's never going to ship they could've just dropped the new controllers onto a board originally designed for last gen chips instead. If you're only making a few hundred of them in total it's probably not worth the extra expense to edit the no longer needed headers out of the design. Reply

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