PFSense to build switches with 10GbE

Pri

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News from the /r/pfsense subreddit, gonzopancho (aka Jim Thompson who works on PFSense and for Electric Sheep Fencing the limited liability company that maintains PFSense) has announced that they will be building 10GbE switches in the future with a blog post to follow with more information.

Here is the thread about them building switches and here is the thread about him making a blogpost about it

About the Switches:

And about the Blog Post:

I thought you guys may find this interesting, I sure did!
 
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Pri

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That will be interesting BackupProphet I look forward to reading your findings.
 

RTM

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pfsense making a switch still seems fairly speculative, at least based on reading those posts.
But I guess it would be pretty cool, so I hope it will happen and be affordable.
 

Patrick

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Thinking as I type this but I wonder how hard it would be to port pfSense to a Quanta Rangeley switch.
 

neo

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I have plans to build a homemade 10G switch with PFsense next month. I've bought a few dual port Mellanox 10G SFP+ cards
Be careful, last time I tried a Mellanox card with pfSense there was no proper driver support.
 

Rain

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Pfsense is based on BSD 10.1, so Mellanox should work fine
This is correct. FreeBSD 10 brought in the Mellanox driver fixes and ConnectX cards work great now AFAIK. It also fixed up support for Intel 10GbE cards. pfSense 2.2.x and above is based on FreeBSD 10, as @Keljian says, so there shouldn't be any problems anymore.

Thinking as I type this but I wonder how hard it would be to port pfSense to a Quanta Rangeley switch.
@Patrick, that would be very interesting indeed. I could see pfSense being ported into something similar to OpenNetLinux, which would be great because something like pfSense would hopefully be made much more configurable by the "general admin."
 
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Pri

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With the way networking is going now days, virtualized with software defined switching I think it's a natural progression for them to go that way. Perhaps with a PFSwitch branding or some such. Give juniper some competition.
 

Keljian

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Thinking as I type this but I wonder how hard it would be to port pfSense to a Quanta Rangeley switch.
The challenge as I see it is that there is no current interface to switch fabrics, so while it would run, I doubt it would run well.

You don't want a switch without a switch fabric.. trust me on this one (High CPU/memory usage, latency... you name it)
 
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RTM

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Perhaps they are doing this with Intel DPDK or netmap, I seem to remember reading somewhere that they were considering using either to help improve 10G performance. I know Intel has made an example application of a switch with DPDK.
 
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neo

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For what it's worth NeGate does sell pfSense appliances with Chelsio T5 10GbE fabric cards. Interestingly enough, the Chelsio Terminator 5 (T5) ASIC does have an embedded switch chip.

 

Pri

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How hard is the SFP / SFP+ stuff to set up. Is it just plug and play if you have an appropriate switch like Ethernet is? I've never used it but the cheapness of the cards, cables and even some of the switches is attractive to me.
 

Patrick

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How hard is the SFP / SFP+ stuff to set up. Is it just plug and play if you have an appropriate switch like Ethernet is? I've never used it but the cheapness of the cards, cables and even some of the switches is attractive to me.
More or less. Everything will look like Ethernet but I do think installing optics + fiber is a bit harder than Cat 6. After the physical layer is setup, you will not notice a difference.
 
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How hard is the SFP / SFP+ stuff to set up. Is it just plug and play if you have an appropriate switch like Ethernet is? I've never used it but the cheapness of the cards, cables and even some of the switches is attractive to me.
Literally all I had to do with my direct attach cable was to slide the end into the NIC until wouldn't go further, then slide the other end into the switch.

Literally all I had to with my fiber was slide the transceiver into the switch, then plug the fiber cable into the transceiver (it clicks like cat6.) Then I repeated the same on the NIC side.

Then I had 10gbe.
 
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