good, cheap switches?

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Mon May 13 07:21:58 PDT 2002

On Sat, 11 May 2002, Andrew Leahy wrote:

> Hello,
> Recently, I've locked horns with the computer support people about what sort
> of a switch I should use in my 20-node beowulf cluster.  I'm looking for a
> 24-port 100Mbit switch, and they're pushing a Cisco 3350-24 switch (around
> $1900) apparently for the simple reason that that's the switch they use on
> the rest of the campus.  As I look at the product specification sheet, their
> switch is loaded with features a campus-wide network manager is bound to
> love, but would be useless on an isolated beowulf cluster.  Since cost is an
> issue here, I'm curious if anybody has any recommendations for a cheaper
> (unmanaged?) switch with a switching fabric of comparable quality.  

It really depends on your object.  Frankly, one can at least order a 24
port GIGABIT switch for only $1800+ (Netgear has one, sold via
Microwarehouse for example, that is supposed to be deliverable in June).
Netgear, D-Link, Linksys havej 24 port 100BT switches that are basically
dirt cheap (less than $10/port).  Any of these switches will provide
adequate bisection bandwidth but mediocre switch-derived latency on a
connection.  That is, they are fine from the point of view of pushing
lots of data through, not so perfect for pushing lots of little packets
through.  However, switches that are much better are also much more

I use netgear's both at home and at work in a small beowulf cluster,
and they are fine for my needs.  I've ordered their gigabit switch (at
about $75/port it should be a real bargain, if it works on the same
basis -- decent bisection bandwidth.  I don't do a lot of small packet


Robert G. Brown	             
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at

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