Updated 1/27/2011
Dell quietly announced the addition of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) switch module, known as the M8428-k.  This blade module advertises 600 ns low-latency, wire-speed,  10GbE performance, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) switching, and low-latency 8 Gb Fibre Channel (FC) switching and connectivity.Dell M8428-k Converged 10GbE Switch Module
In this era of virtualization in the datacenter, CPU and RAM capabilities on servers are no longer the bottleneck, but instead it is the servers’ I/O.  Technology vendors are now offering 10Gb Ethernet options which helps to reduce the traditional Ethernet I/O bottleneck.  In fact, many vendors have begun to offer a convergence of networking allowing both Ethernet and Storage commands to travel down a single converged pipe.  These devices, known as converged network switches have been around since Cisco first introduced their Nexus product a couple of years ago.  The design of the original converged switch took a single 10Gb cable to a Top of Rack (ToR) switch in which the Ethernet traffic and the fibre storage traffic was separated.

Over the past 9 months we’ve seen a surge of a new generation of converged switches, that does not require a ToR switch, but instead splits the Ethernet and Fibre traffic out of a single module within a blade chassis.  The advantages of this approach are: it frees up blade server mezzanine (expansion card) slots and it also requires fewer modules within a blade chassis therefore freeing up space for additional future fabrics.  In late December 2010, Dell announced their next generation converged module, called the M8428-k Converged 10GbE Switch ModuleThe M8428-k has 28 ports: 16 internal and 12 external.  The 12 external ports are made up of:

*8 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) speed and Data Center Bridging (DCB). 
*4 Fibre Channel ports: that support 2, 4, and 8 Gbps full duplex

The 16 internal ports (one per Dell M1000e Server bay) supports DCB and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).  One last point to make, the module comes with all ports activated.  This is an advantage over some competitors that offer upgrade licenses to activate additional ports.

UPDATECurrently the only compatible blade server mezzanine Converged Network Adapter (CNA) is the BR1741M-k.  This card provides FCoE connectivity from blade server to the M8428-k Converged Switch Module.  You can read more about this card on this Dell site.

For more information ont he Dell M8428-k Converged 10GbE Switch Module, visit Dell.com.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_65PNS47CC5PBYTBTBEK4OT2DRY SomeOne

    It’s not clear from your blog if the 8 external 10Gb ports also support FCoE?

  • Anonymous

    OEM from who ?

  • Anonymous

    Brocade … just googled it

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  • http://BladesMadeSimple.com/ Kevin Houston

    The only protocol mentioned on the #Dell M8428-k Converged Switch 10GbE uplinks is “DCB”. No mention of FCoE on those ports. Thanks for your comment!

  • http://twitter.com/dchosnek Doron Chosnek

    Any ideas on approximate pricing?

  • http://blogstu.wordpress.com stu

    The Dell M8428-k is simply an embedded Brocade 8000, so functionality will be the same. See http://community.brocade.com/thread/5310?start=30&tstart=0 for more details (thanks to Erik Smith for pointing me to it)

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_46T5CZM3MKBM4LHI4P7S3HQ6IQ Srinivas

    Yes all ports support FCoE and Enhanced Ethernet based of DCB standards.

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  • Sherri

    Is there any good documentation on how to configure the M8428-k, with Brocade CNA 1741M-k using Vmware 5.0? I’ve got a single blade server that won’t map to vlan 1002…suspect configuration but I’m at a loss where to start my t/s

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