For users that have been following our recent coverage of Aquantia’s new multi-gigabit Ethernet solutions for consumers, the AQtion AQC107 and AQC108 controllers (along with their corresponding PCIe cards), the running theme through all of the >1 Gb Ethernet standards on RJ-45 has been the availability of switches. There are plenty of enthusiasts that would happily upgrade their home network infrastructure to something bigger than gigabit ethernet if there was a realistic price alternative. Current 10GBase-T solutions, for example, can cost >$150 per port for the systems and >$100 per port for the switch, whereas gigabit ethernet is ~$2-5 per port. Aquantia is hoping to break that mould, and showed some of the systems that related partners are moving towards working.

I should state at this point that what was on display was early prototypes – Aquantia is working with ODMs and OEMs on getting the fundamentals of such switches right first, before those partners actually coming to market. Aside from the slew of typical enterprise players showing enterprise switches, Aquantia wasn’t prepared to state on record who they are partnering with in the consumer space for switches, although we were told so suspect the usual suspects. Any information we got from the meeting today we were told was expected to be preliminary and non-final, with potentially large differences between now and final products.

All that being said, we were told that Aquantia  is working on three main solutions for ODMs to look into: a 4-port solution, an 5-port solution, and an 8-port solution. The heart of these platforms is Aquantia silicon supporting four ports, with the 5-port switch version using a 4-port plus 1-port silicon design. The models on display, and used as the top image in this news piece, were done in collaboration with Cameo, who will be one of the first vendors (if not the first) to come to market with a product.

An older reference design

Aquantia demonstrated basic iPerf performance over the network using the switch in 10G mode with two Aquantia AQC107 add-in cards between two systems, showing 9.5G bandwidth in a basic test. The demo switch that was being used was not a final version by any means, in terms of looks and noise levels (it was overengineered for the demo), but this is something Aquantia expects OEMs to address rapidly.

Naturally, we asked about pricing of the switches and availability. With the aforementioned caveats, we were told that the switch vendors themselves will be the ones dictating pricing. That being said, after suggesting that pricing in the region of $250-$300 for an 8-port switch that supports Aquantia 10G solutions (so likely 5GBase-T and 2.5GBase-T as well) would be great, we were told that this was likely a good estimate. Previously in this price range, options were limited to a sole provider: ASUS’ XG-U1008, a switch with two 10GBase-T ports and six one-gigabit Ethernet ports for $200. Above that, some Netgear solutions were running almost $800 for an 8-port managed solution. So moving to eight full 10G ports in this price bracket would be amazing, and I told Aquantia to tell OEMs that at that price ($~30 per port), those switches will fly off the shelves with enthusiasts who want to upgrade.

Given the early nature of the designs on show, discussions on availability are expected to happen later this year, although Aquantia is likely to let partners announce their own products and time scales for the roll-outs. 

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  • melgross - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    The question is how long are your runs? While plastic cable is fairly cheap, it's limited to about 30 feet. Then you need glass, which is at least 10 times as expensive.
  • BrokenCrayons - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    I'm pretty satisfied with wireless transfer speeds at the moment. I get 144 mbit/s and that's more than fast enough for residential usage when my small number of computers are working independently of one another and don't require any substantial local-to-local bandwidth. If downstream from my ISP was faster than the abysmal 12 mbit/s I'm getting now, I'd start rethinking that, but I doubt I'd go back to wired ethernet regardless of costs unless I absolutely had to because of signal strength limitations.
  • azazel1024 - Monday, June 5, 2017 - link

    That is great that it is enough for you. I grumble when I am hitting only 450Mbps from my laptop to my server over wireless and start considering looking for an Ethernet cable to plug in.

    My ISP is a lot faster than the 12Mbps you are getting, but my internet link is my limiting factor anywhere reasonable on my property (and everywhere in my house, except my tablet which maxes at around 90Mbps, which is slower than my internet connection). But I still transfer larger files sometimes to and from my server and when you are throwing 10GiB files from time to time, even the ~1900Mbps (taking in to account overhead) I get over dual GbE Ethernet links doesn't seem all that fast. If I got 144Mbps I'd probably have heart palpitations.
  • bigboxes - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    Agreed. I've been on GbE netowrk speeds since 2005. I've got four computers, three Fire TV devices, three tablets, two smartphones all demanding from the internet and my file server. I have them all hard wired except for the smartphones and tablets. My next project will be doing a major upgade for my file server in the next couple of months. 10GbE would be a really cool Christmas present!
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    Ah, and that's probably where there's divergence in our needs. I haven't bothered with any sort of residential server in quite a few years. There was a time when there was a rack packed full of hardware in a spare bedroom I used for crafts and hobbies, but I found it didn't add much to my life while the costs in power, upgrades, and time kept me away from othere pursuits. Had I not downsized, I'd probably be annoyed at the abysmal DSL router I purchased from my ISP and would crave to go faster. That isn't the case now because I don't have any backend services to worry about. If I need to move a file between computers its transferred one of two ways, via a FTP server app on my phone (word docs, small photos) or a 1TB external hard drive (videos, programs, backups). Sometimes I can't even be bothered to do that and I just e-mail something to myself. It's all about time savings. Over the years, I grew to dislike managing data and coming home from work only to end up doing sysop chores after hours on my own network. Simplification of information technology has given me a lot more recreational time to be outside, do things with family members, and pursue writing and art. Some of those things slip through your fingers in what feels like the blink of an eye and I don't want to have my head buried in the innards of a computer only to end up with a lot of regrets and an insufficiently small retirement account later in life.
  • azazel1024 - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    I can certainly understand that. I spend more time on sys admin work than I'd like to, but it probably only averages 14-18 hours per year. Usually just a couple of days where I end up sinking half a day in to it because of something like upgrading to Win10, or installing new hard drives and reloading the data to the new array. Then a few days a year where I might be spending a few minutes to an hour doing some little things like making sure updates installed correctly.

    It makes my life a heck of a lot better though (and my family's). It hosts iTunes back-ups for my wife and my devices. It hosts back-ups for all of our files (and makes sure they are available on our network). It holds our media library, which saves a TON of time and provides the flexibility to watch movies or listen to music on several different streamers on our network. Sure, I invest a small amount ripping my blu ray and DVD collection, but the time saved in being able to skip previews, menus, etc. probably means over the years I've SAVED time rather than spent time doing it. Plus it makes my collection portable.
  • Valantar - Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - link

    This is a fantastic development. While I think the prices are still just a tad high, I'd be very willing to pay ~$100 for a 4-port switch to hook up a NAS and the one PC on my network that would have any use for this, with one port for the uplink and one spare. The biggest problem now is getting a not-crazy-expensive NAS with either a 5+Gbps port or a PCIe slot for adding a NIC.
  • nils_ - Thursday, June 8, 2017 - link

    I would like something with 4 10GbE ports and 4 Ports 1GbE with the possibility to do link aggregation, I would like to use aggregation with my Wifi AP.
  • ouroborus - Thursday, August 10, 2017 - link

    Alright. When will this be available on Newegg or Amazon?
  • thefutureishere - Monday, November 13, 2017 - link

    Thanks for the article
    Having eagerly been waiting for the release of cheaper switches, I am starting to wonder when that might happen?
    2017? 2018 Q1/2/3?
    There is a big market for this so not sure why it has been delayed so much?

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