by Kevin OBrien

Netgear ProSafe Plus XS708E 10GbE Switch Review

The Netgear ProSafe Plus XS708E 10GbE switch is part of a new family of ProSafe switches that are designed for SMBs to address the concerns of both enormous network traffic growth and the increasing performance capabilities of networked storage. Most storage arrays are sold with 10GbE these days either standard or as a reasonably priced option and 10GbE is likewise gaining traction in the server market. While gigabit Ethernet remains the standard, the benefits of 10GbE are immense, but a long time stumbling block has been the capital investment in equipment to support the interconnect, especially for small businesses. The key then with the XS708E is both speed and cost - the XS708E brings performance capabilities to the masses, with a street price of close to $100 per port. 

The Netgear's ProSafe Plus XS708E features eight 10GbE ports and one shared 10G fiber SFP+ port, along with simple Layer 2 functionality. Netgear XS708E's management interface enables administrators to configure a range of services and options. The XS708E presents users with the ability to troubleshoot connection problems via cable tests, VLAN support for traffic segmentation and Quality of Service (QoS) for prioritizing traffic. It also has auto denial-of-service (DoS) prevention, IGMP snooping for multicast optimization, port trunking, rate limiting for bandwidth allocation, traffic monitoring and jumbo frame support. 

Netgear has also designed the XS708E for flexible applications like temporary network deployments, field offices, and for small businesses that require some advanced functionality. However, design-wise the ProSafe Plus XS708E is not intended for the complexity of a fully-managed network infrastructure. Additionally, one caveat is that the ProSafe Plus configuration utility only supports Windows which will be a problem for mixed operating system environments.

The ProSafe Plus XS708E 8-port 10 Gigabit Plus Switch has a street price of under $1,000 and is currently available.

ProSafe Plus XS708E Specifications

  • Eight 100/1000/10000 Mbps RJ45 ports with one combo port supporting 10 Gigabit SFP+ fiber
  • VLAN support for traffic segmentation
  • Quality of Service (QoS) for traffic prioritization
  • Auto “denial-of-service” (DoS) prevention
  • Troubleshoot connection issues via cable test
  • Loop prevention and broadcast storm controls
  • IGMP snooping for multicast optimization
  • Rate limiting for better bandwidth allocation
  • Port Trunking (Link Aggregation LAG)
  • Port mirroring for network monitoring
  • Jumbo frame support
  • Power: 100-240V, 50-60Hz, 2.2A max, localized to country of sale
  • Operating temperature: 320F to 122oF
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 1.7 in. x 13 in. x 8.15 in.
  • Weight: 7.94 lbs
  • NETGEAR Lifetime Warranty

Design and Build

The ProSafe Plus XS708E is like all of Netgear's SMB switches with the entirety of its interactivity located on the front and its power cable located at the rear. The eight Ethernet ports are in a single row in two sets of four. Each port has two sets of status lights; one indicates 10G operation and the other indicates operation at 10/100Mb or 1Gb. The eighth port can be used as a combo port as it supports 10 Gigabit SFP+ fiber. The front panel design is rounded out with power and fan indicators, along with a factory default reset switch on the left. 

The XS708E is designed to support rack-mounted installation and comes with a rail kit. To mount the XS708E switch in a rack, Netgear includes mounting tabs that extend to fit a 1U mounting slot. Unlike many other SMB switches, the XS708E is actively cooled with two 40mm fans which are located on the left side.

The back of the Netgear ProSafe Plus XS708E is feature-less except for a single AC power plug and a locking slot. 

User Interface

While the XS708E is assigned a local IP on the network it resides, it doesn't have its own internal web server to host its management utilities internally. The ProSafe Plus Configuration Utility is required for setup, and it is included with the switch or can be downloaded on Netgear's website. The utility is easy to follow, and it offers plenty of options.

 

In today's SMBs, IT staff work continuously to optimize their networks. They do so segregating by VLAN or requirements of Quality of Service controls in order to make their networks function properly without disrupting other network traffic. Automated, always-on systems like VoIP phones and IP security camera solutions frequently require this Layer 2 functionality in locations with limited IT staff access. The ProSafe Plus XS708E offers both port and tag-based prioritization through the integrated management software.

Testing Background and Comparables

When it comes to testing enterprise hardware, the environment is just as important as the testing processes used to evaluate it. At StorageReview, we offer the same hardware and infrastructure found in many datacenters for which the devices we test would ultimately be destined. This includes enterprise servers and proper infrastructure equipment like networking, rack space, power conditioning/monitoring, and same-class comparable hardware to properly evaluate how a device performs. None of our reviews are paid for or controlled by the manufacturer of the equipment we are testing.

StorageReview Enterprise Test Lab

Our current Windows Server 2012 10Gbase-t Ethernet SAN and NAS testing infrastructure consists of our Lenovo ThinkServer RD630 testing platform equipped with Intel X540-T2 PCIe adapters connected through Netgear's XS708E switch. This environment allows the storage device we are testing to be the I/O bottleneck, instead of the networking gear itself.

StorageReview 10GbE Windows Server 2012 Enterprise Testing Platform:

2 x Lenovo ThinkServer RD630

  • 2 x Intel Xeon E5-2620 (6 core, 2.0 GHz, 15MB, 95W)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 64-Bit
  • Intel C600 Chipset
  • Memory - 16GB (2 x 8GB) 1333Mhz DDR3 Registered RDIMMs

Enterprise Synthetic Workload Analysis

For storage array reviews, we precondition with a heavy load of 16 threads with an outstanding queue of 16 per thread, and then test in set intervals in multiple thread/queue depth profiles to show performance under light and heavy usage. For tests with 100% read activity, preconditioning is with the same workload, although flipped to 100% write.

  • 4k (Random)
    • 100% Read or 100% Write
  • 8k (Sequential)
    • 100% Read or 100% Write
  • 128k (Sequential)
    • 100% Read or 100% Write

To measure the real-world performance of the Netgear XS708E 8-port switch in a high-performance scenario with a simple twin-port configuration between two servers, we designed a testing environment leveraging the SMB 3.0 protocol sharing a Micron P320h PCIe SSD over the network. With two 25GB SMB 3.0 shares located on one server and the FIO load generator on the other, we measured the performance using our random and sequential file transfer tests.

With just two active 10Gbase-t network ports per server, we measured 4K random I/O performance in excess of 267k IOPS read and 272k IOPS write with a load of 16 threads and 16 queue. Average latency during the test measured just 1ms read and 0.9ms write. To help frame that in terms of bandwidth, that's over 1GB/s in random I/O passed through four ports in this entry-level Netgear switch.

Switch the focus of our benchmarks to sequential transfers, we looked at both small-block and large-block transfers. 8k sequential performance topped out at over 236k IOPS read and 161k IOPS write (or 1.9GB/s read and 1.3GB/s write) over our two SMB 3.0 shares. Increasing the transfer size to 128k we saw bandwidth of almost 1.9GB/s read and 1.7GB/s write.

Conclusion

The ProSafe Plus XS708E provides SMBs with an affordable option to upgrade or add CAT6-based 10GbE switching to their IT infrastructure compared to the price of traditional twinax 10GbE Enterprise switches. For IT staff, the XS708E offers plug-and-play features and easy setup through Netgear's included ProSafe Plus Configuration Utility. The interface utility allows the IT administrator to configure VLAN support, QoS, IGMP snooping, port trunking, rate limiting, and traffic monitoring across all access ports. 

In terms of performance, the entry-level 8-port Netgear ProSafe Plus XS708E is no slouch, leveraging an incredible amount of performance that the newest storage products demand. In our testing environment sharing a high-performance PCIe SSD between servers utilizing two-ports per system and SMB 3.0, we saw random I/O in excess of about 270k IOPS read and write. Peak bandwidth with large-block transfers topped out at roughly 1.9GB/s read and 1.7GB/s write over two ports, which is amazing given the entry pricing on this latest breed of 10Gbase-t switches.

Pros

  • Tremendous performance for the latest arrays/servers
  • Affordable pricing for SMBs
  • Extremely easy to setup and put into production

Cons

  • ProSafe Plus configuration utility only supports Windows

Bottom Line

The Netgear ProSafe Plus XS708E brings 8 ports of high throughput 10GbE to SMBs at near $100 per port. It's hard to imagine a more effective instant performance upgrade for a small/branch office that's including 10GbE compute or storage in the network.

Netgear ProSafe Plus XS708E

Netgear ProSafe Plus XS708E at Amazon.com