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48×25G with 100G uplinks : P4 Bare Metal Switch or SONiC Innovium low latency switch ?

written by Asterfuison

October 22, 2021

There are many choices for 48 ports 25G/10G with 100G uplinks for Leaf/TOR switches on the market now.The choice such as brite box switch preloaded with open source software like OcNOS, PicOS, SONIC, etc.and the P4 bare metal switch without software.

But, what is the difference and which to choose?

Here is Asterfusion’s 2 types CX308P-48Y-N / X312P-48Y-T switch as an example, to make a comparison.

Option A: CX-308P-48Y-N preloaded SONiC Enterprise Distribution based on Innovium Teralynx

The Asterfusion CX308-48Y- N is a 48 ports 25GbE switch with 8 ports 100G uplinks which suited for data center top-of-rack switch, enterprise and cloud service providers network deployments, where line-rate L2/ L3 up to 2.0 Tbps switching performance of Innovium Teralynx is paired with ultra low-latency in a compact 1RU form factor .It is well suited for cloud,NVME, AI and HPC latency-sensitive applications.

Innovium switch with 48X25G + 8X100G ports

Built on the deployment-proven Innovium Teralynx switching ASIC, this open network switch preloaded with “AsterNOS” which is an enterprise NOS distribution of open source SONiC with feature rich enhancement and high quality assurance. AsterNOS packed with software features that support complete Layer 3 IPv4 and IPv6 routing protocol.

enterprise SONiC NOS architecture

Besides,it supports VXLAN, EVPN for virtual network expansion.Advancing functions in data center such as DCB、ECN、 RoCEV2, DCTCP、DCQCN is also provided to deliver low-latency, zero packet loss, non-blocking lossless Ethernet. Furthermore, supporting features like INT ,BFD mechanisms to ensure normal operation when the network bears abundant services and heavy traffic.

Option B: P4 programmable Bare Metal Switch X312P-48Y-T

The Asterfusion X312P-48Y-T is an Intel tofino P4 programmable bare metal switch with 48x25G/10G (SPF28) + 2x25G/10G/1G (SFP28) + 12x100G (QSFP28)interfaces ,Layer 2 and Layer 3 forwarding up to 3.3 Tbps.

3.3 T Intel Tofino programmable switch

It is a unique combination of a multi-core X86-based control/management plane, an Intel Tofino programmable switching chip based data forwarding plane and 2 optional high-performance Marvell OcteonTX DPU based modules which can provide extra L4 -L7 in-depth data processing capability. 

Software for Tofino P4 programmable Bare Metal Switch

  • Debian based environment for development quick start ;
  • BSP patches of SONiC community version
  • SONiC based commercial distribution-AsterNOS
  • Community version of SONiC and Stratum can be installed with the pre-loaded white box install environment ONIE.

Deployment scenarios for Tofino P4 programmable Switch

After installing software,  X312P-48Y-T can be deployed as a top-of-rack (ToR) switch as well as smart gateway such as traffic management, load balance and security processing because its ASIC level programmability enables the switch to deal with flexible network application scenarios.

P4 programmable Bare Metal One or SONiC Innovium One?

Option A have installed SONiC software, which is suitable for users who want simple, plug-and-play deployments and turnkey solution. CX-308P-48Y-N not only can take the advantage of “AsterNOS” with rich and advancing functions support ,but also benefits from its Innovium Teralynx ASIC has industry leading low latency which well suited for cloud,NVME, AI and HPC latency-sensitive applications.

Features Comparison of AsterNOS &SONiC community
Features Comparison of AsterNOS &SONiC community

As for option B,suits for the customers who has the in-house capabilities and technical expertise to develop the application on software and great needs for data plane programmability.

There is a highlight of its data plane extension solution: when employed with more complex applications, such as those which need deep buffer, stateful processing, or L7 processing, the pluggable 2 DPU modules can be chosen to provide high performance software data processing, where the DPDK and VPP framework can be used to provide developers a quick start development environment in a similar way to the Intel X86.

3.3 T Intel Tofino programmable switch interior architecture

If users want to develop applications on switch,we will offer patch for BSP of platform for the SDE;or user can use SONiC from community and we will offer patches to support hardware;we can even help users to combine P4 and SONiC together to reduce their time-to-market. Of course, our AsterNOS operating system is an ideal choice as well.

Intel tofino P4 programmable switch enjoys great popularity for academia and research program nowadays.

In addition, price is also an important factor.

CX-308P-48Y-N installed SONiC enterprise distribution is more expensive here.

X312P-48Y -T here is slightly cheaper since it plugs 2 extra DPU modules on switch board for data plane extension .

25G/10G+100G/40G mixed ports for Leaf/TOR switches is the common solution for data centers’increasing network demands now. To satisfy different customers’requirements, Asterfusion has released two types switches CX308P-48Y-N / X312P-48Y-T , providing an open choice for users.


CX308P-48Y-N installed SONiC software which can use directly,with its Innovium Teralynx ASIC can meet latency-sensitive industry’s needs.

X312P-48Y-T is a P4 bare metal switch suits for the customers who have the in-house capabilities and technical expertise to develop the application on software.

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