Cisco targets telcos, hyperscalers alike with new 800G switches

Cisco trotted out two new 800G switch platforms on Tuesday, as well as a pair of new optical transceivers to match. Company executive Gurudatt Shenoy told Fierce the new solutions offer a combination of powerful throughput, flexibility and energy efficiency that will appeal to hyperscalers and telcos alike as bandwidth demands rise.

New products include the Nexus 9232E and Cisco 8111 switches, both of which are powered by Cisco’s Silicon One G100 chip and offer up to 25.6T of throughput. Shenoy, who is VP of Product Management in Cisco’s Mass-scale Infrastructure Routing Group, said the primary difference between the two is software. The Nexus is built for telcos, enterprises and other customers who want an integrated solution while the Cisco 8000 series is a more bare bones offering for hyperscalers who want to stack their own operating system on top.

Each switch offers 32 ports of 800G to offer the aforementioned 25.6T of total throughput. But individual ports can be broken out to support 8x100G or 2x400G, enabling high density deployments in a small form factor. Shenoy noted this is key in a world where colocation providers charge by the rack. To get to 25.6T using 100G switches would take up six times as much space, he said.

“This is how we envision a lot of our customers using these switches. They’re not using direct 800-gig ports today – maybe in the future if they have a need to get there they will – but they’ll use these in 400-gig and 100-gig mode,” he said. To complement the new the Nexus and 8000 series platforms, Cisco unveiled 800G optical transceivers with 400G and 100G interfaces.

Shenoy acknowledged that 25.6T itself isn’t new, as competitors have already announced switches capable of such throughput. But what sets Cisco’s version apart, he said, is its use of 100G rather than 56G SerDes lanes. This makes Cisco’s 800G switch “really power efficient,” he said. Specifically, Cisco claimed its new solutions can deliver up to a 77% reduction in power compared to solutions built with 12.8T switches.

The 8000 series is already shipping, with the new Nexus solution set to begin shipping in early 2023. Samples of the optical transceivers are available now and shipping is also expected in early 2023.

Dell’Oro Group recently predicted spending on 800G ports in the Data Center Switch market will surpass spending on 400G ports by 2025. To date, Google has spearheaded adoption of 800G switch ports, with Meta and Microsoft expected to follow in its footsteps in the near future.

That’s notable because cloud service providers like Google and Microsoft “are projected to comprise 60 percent of the spending on data center switches by 2026 and to drive the adoption of 400 Gbps, 800 Gbps, and 1600 Gbps speeds,” Dell’Oro Senior Director Sameh Boujelbene said in a statement.