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What is Bare Metal Switch and Its Vendor?

written by Asterfuison

December 12, 2022

Bare metal switch vendors includes: Accton,Quanta QCT,Alpha Networks, Delta Computer and Asterfusion Data Technologies and others.

An open network means that the network switch hardware and software are separated and disaggregated from each other. With the development of open networks, many enterprise users have realized its benefits of flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Bare metal switch is the foundation for an inevitable shift in data center networks. In this article, we have a deeper understanding of what is bare metal switch, what are the vendors, how is its quality and price.

What is Bare Metal Switch?

Bare metal switches are pure hardware device come from original design manufacturers (ODMs) which do not have a software preloaded.

Users can independently develop their own applications runs on bare metal switch, such as P4 programmable bare metal switch, which , nowadays is very popular in IT research institutions, academy laboratories and university IT majors.

Or uses can purchase a third-party network operating system (NOS) — like SONiC, Pica8, Cumulus Linux OS, IP infusion, etc. A bare metal switch comes with a boot-loader called the open network install environment (ONIE), which allows you to load an operating system onto the switch.

48×25Gb, 12×100G P4-programmable switch with 3.3 Tbps Intel Tofino ASIC
Asterfusion 48×25GE, 12×100GE P4-programmable switch with 3.3 Tbps Intel Tofino ASIC

In fact, servers (sometimes PCS and laptops) have been built this way for years.Users themselves choose the application they want to run, then choose the operating system that can best support the application, and lastly, selects the hardware that can run programs on it.

What’s the Price of Bare Metal Switch?

Pricing in the networking industry is often very mysterious and opaque. It’s no surprise that traditional network vendors extract a range of four times average selling prices from SMEs to large operators.

With bare metal switches emerge , pricing becomes more transparent and cost-effective. For example, Edge-Core offers a 48 x 10GE + 6 x 100GE network switch for an MSRP of $5000-$5500. Meanwhile, another venor FS ‘s price is about $4100- $4600. Likewise, Asterfusion offers an equivalent 48 x 10GE + 6 x 100GE bare metal switch preloaded with its enterprise SONiC NOS retailing only for $2,599. (support VXLAN and BGP-EVPN ,etc .advancing features) The price is only the half of other manufacturers. Now, with the popularity of bare-metal switching, data center operators of all sizes can purchase high-performance, high-quality switches at a more cost-effective price.

Asterfusion CX206P-48S-M-H: 48 x 10Gb SFP28+6 x 100Gb QSFP28
Asterfusion CX206P-48S-M-H: 48 x 10GE SFP28+6 x 100GE QSFP28

What’s the Difference Between Bare Metal Switch and White Box Switches?

The concepts of white-box switches and bare-metal switches are often confusing. They have a lot in common, and even express the same meaning most of the time.The difference between the two is that a white-box switch has an operating system installed on it. but It’s still an open switch, because the operating system and hardware are not integrated and bundled like traditional switches, which is equivalent to buying a bare metal switch and an operating system in a package. Such as Asterfusion CX-N low latency cloud switch preload with its SONiC NOS, which can be called white box switch.

Asterfusion CX-N low latency cloud switch preload with its SONiC NOS, which can be called white box switch.
Asterfusion Low latency data center switch

At the same time, it should be noted that manufacturers who runs open source software on their hardware switch, actually, have no software capabilities. As for Asterfusion, they have formed a software team of more than 100 software engineers to develop their own enterprise SONiC NOS since 2017.At present, its SONiC-based AsterNOS has been iterated to version 4.0.

Asterfusion enterprise SONiC NOS

What’s the Vendors of Bare Metal Switch?

Bare metal manufacturers include companies such as Accton, Quanta QCT,Alpha Networks, Delta Computer and Asterfusion Data Technologies.

Do Cheap White Box Switch / bare metal switch Mean Low Quality?

These companies are also original design manufacturers (ODMs) for many mainstream traditional switch suppliers. In fact, some bare-metal switches that users buy are the same switches they buy from mainstream vendors, just get rid of famous brand and without an operating system but with a much lower price.

The development of bare metal switching

According to data from the survey agency Omdia in July 2022, data center Ethernet switch port shipments will increase by 12% in 2022, of which Cisco’s market share is 37%, Arista’s is 18%, Huawei’s is 8%, H3C’s is 7%, and white box suppliers are 14%, Other 16%. Compared with the data in 2021, the market share of traditional equipment manufacturer Cisco in 2022 drops by 3% compared with last year, and the white box market share increases by 4%. Let’s look at the another data from Dell’Oro Group.

Data center switch revenues from bare metal switch vendors—Accton, Celestica, DNI, Quanta and others—increased 31% in 2Q22, the sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. Note that white box switch usage is primarily driven by Google, Amazon, Meta, Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, with Google and Amazon accounting for 70-80% of white box switch deployments.

All in all, it’s clear that bare metal switches are gaining popularity among cloud providers. Although they are still in a early developing stage, they still have great potential in telecommunications networks and large data centers.

Asterfusion: 1G-400GbE bare metal switch vendors

Asterfusion Data Technologies delivers a fully open and highly disaggregated network from 1G-400G white box switchesbare metal switches with SONiC based operating system for next generation data centers, campus and service providers.

Asterfusion 1G-400G white box switches/ bare metal switches with SONiC

Asterfusion: Re-engineer the cloud networks with bare metal switching

The core members of Asterfusion are high position people from Cisco and Huawei with decades of rich experience on route and switch development. Asterfusion has a thorough understanding of the needs of the industry, the capability to self-develop SONiC based open network operating system and bare metal hardware, the ability to make continuous contributions in major open source communities and the great mission to “Re-engineer the cloud networks with bare metal switching“.

Asterfusion believes an open-source, virtualized, bare metal approach is the best way to go .


  • Shuo W, Yang S,Binwei W. White Box Switch Technical White Paper, Network Communication Purple Mountain Laboratory, 2021
  • Sharon Y, What is white box switch? Asterfusion data technologies network blog ,,2021
  • ONF Official Website:

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