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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  • astrocramp - Saturday, June 24, 2017 - link

    I had a XS708Ev2, and you're right the noise was horrendous. I had it installed in my home network closet and I could still hear it outside the door. Even worse, I bought some low-noise 40mm fans thinking I could just swap them out but the pinout on the 3-pin connector is different than standard so you need to modify the fan plugs. I ended up just running the switch without fans and checked temps often - I had a very light load, it was basically just switching a single 10G workstation, a 1Gb backhaul to wireless, and a 10G fileserver. I've since upgraded to the XS716 so I could reduce clutter and free up space - those fans actually run much more quiet. Reply
  • dgingeri - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    I don't know about anyone else, but I absolutely hate the push for wireless networks. Wireless is so insecure and unreliable. Give me a good wired connection any day.

    I do have 10Gbe at home. I bought a Dlink DGS-1510-28X, with 24 1G ports and 4 10G SFP ports, back in December. With the SFPs, it was still below $500. I'm not fond of the push for 10G-baseT, as I prefer the optical cables. EM can't interfere with optical lines, and the cables are so much smaller and easier to work with.
    Reply
  • azazel1024 - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    Yes, except few people have their house wired for optical and it is also a lot more expensive to do and few things have optical inputs for networking. I priced going fiber for my house out of curiosity and I landed at around $1500 for everything, as well as a lot more power draw and being much more unsightly as I'd need a bunch of optical to Ethernet transceivers, plus the extra cost of the fiber over cat6. I wired my entire house myself (18 drops) at a cost of about $300 for everything and it can support 10GbE speeds (no run is over 70 feet in length and cat6 can support 10GbE to 55 meters, or about 180ft). Reply
  • dgingeri - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    Then the question becomes: Do you really need 10Gb everywhere? I just have it to my main machine, file server, and VM host. I don't need 10Gb to my printer, HTPC, Fire TV, or wireless AP. Reply
  • azazel1024 - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    I certainly don't, but if I am going to go with a standard, I'd like to future proof it. Otherwise I am just in a position where I pulled copper to a location for a LAN drop and 10 years later I am running 10GbE over copper there anyway.

    No, I don't see printers needing 10GbE any decade soon. However, laptops may support it (or at least >1GbE) in the next handful of years and there are plenty of times I roam with my laptop or tablet around my house and decide to wire it. Which is why I have LAN drops in every room (except bathrooms).

    If you are doing same room, cables on the floor/raceway, sure fine go optical with your bad self. If you are installing permanent runs, you want to make darned sure what you install is future proof, not simply for performance, but what you actually plan to place there. 10 years from how, my kid's bedroom might turn in to my home office, I hope I wired it correctly 10 years ago, or I am doing some drywall work and fishing cables (I did wire all of the rooms with an eye towards current and future needs).
    Reply
  • Daniel Egger - Monday, June 12, 2017 - link

    If you're concerned about power draw you almost certainly do *not* want 10GBase-T, Fiber uses a lot less, especially if you have cross-talk (from cheap material or improper DIY wiring). Reply
  • Saihtam - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    Of course wired connections are superior, but how practical would it be to connect your laptop or your smartphone to the network with an Ethernet cable every time? Wireless networks are not a replacement for wired networks, they are a complement. Reply
  • dgingeri - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    Agreed on that. Wireless works OK for my phones and Fire tablet. However, the push over wireless has encouraged laptop makers to quit putting wired connections into their laptops. I got a Dell Inspiron 5000, and it only has wireless built in. I had to buy a USB 3.0 to gigabit adapter to get a wired connection. I was quite annoyed with this. Then I found my work laptop, a Lenovo Yoga, has the same issue.

    I rarely use my laptops away from home, so I have a dedicated station for them with USB keyboard, mouse, wired network, and monitor. So, it works well for me. I absolutely despise the idea of using my laptops on my couch or bed. There are so many things that can go wrong with a laptop in those places. I wish other people would realize this, as I frequently have to fix said laptops after they've been damaged due to inability to remove heat.
    Reply
  • Hurr Durr - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    Agreed. I refuse to buy a notebook that doesn`t have Ethernet. Reply
  • melgross - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    Then soon, you won't be buying a new laptop. Actually, most of these things need an adapter. I know that some people go ballistic over the thought of that, but they just have to get over it, as it's the future, like it or not. Reply

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