Introducing Cisco Algo Boost and Nexus 3548 – Breaking 200 ns Latency Barrier!

September 19, 2012 - 5 Comments

… While Delivering Superior Fabric Visibility!

Today, at the High Performance Computing for Wall Street event, we announced Cisco Algorithm Boost or Algo Boost technology, a groundbreaking networking innovation with numerous patents pending, that offers the highest speed, visibility and monitoring capabilities in the networking industry.  A true game changer delivering competitive advantage to our customers!

Ideal for high performance trading, big data and high performance computing environments, this new technology offers network access performance as low as 190 nanoseconds, more than 60% faster than other full featured Ethernet switches.  When your business success is determined by nanoseconds, this is a huge gain!

The first switch to integrate the Cisco Algo Boost technology is the new Cisco Nexus 3548 full-featured switch which extends Cisco’s leadership in networking by pairing performance and low latency with innovations in visibility, automation, and time synchronization.  And it is tightly integrated with the rich feature set of our Nexus Operating System, a proven operating system used in many of the world’s leading data centers, creating a truly differentiated offering.


So you may ask how we deliver this breakthrough offering that will change the game.  Here is how…

At Cisco, innovation is core to our corporate culture. We have world-class engineering talent and one of the largest research and development investments of any technology firm.

We also have very deep and long-standing relationships with our customers. That gives us the benefit of insight into their unique requirements.  For high performance trading, high performance computing and big data environments, every nanosecond matters.  We get that!  Take a look at this short video with Padmasree Warrior (Chief Technology and Strategy Officer), Paul Perez (CTO of Data Center Group) and other technology experts discussing Algo Boost.

And today we’re announcing a solution with our purpose-built silicon engineered specifically to meet YOUR network needs. But before we dive into details, here is a snapshot of what Nexus 3548 with integrated Algo Boost provides:

  • One-rack-unit (1RU) line rate 48 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet Layer 2 and 3 switch
  • Lowest latency in the industry: switching latency as low as 190 nanoseconds
  • Warp switch port analyzer (SPAN) feature facilitates the efficient delivery of  stock market data to financial trading servers as little as 50 nanoseconds
  • Active buffer monitoring for proactive monitoring and congestion alerts
  • Line rate Network Address Translation (NAT) without latency penalty
  • IEEE-1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) with Pulse Per Second output – time synchronization to better achieve regulatory compliance
  • Intelligent traffic mirroring (ERSPAN) for better performance analysis
  • Robust, feature-rich, proven NX-OS Networking Software

With the introduction of Nexus 3548 and Algo Boost Technology, Cisco shows commitment to delivering the highest performance switch with innovation that goes beyond low latency.  Our competitors simply cannot match it as Algo Boost is the marriage of ultra-low latency with performance visibility and critical features like NAT to make our solution as versatile as possible.


First, let’s talk about latency.  We had to think out-of-the-box and take a different approach than the industry about the way ASICs are designed in order to optimize port-to-port latency. Our engineers exceeded expectations in this category by designing our Algo Boost silicon to execute multiple functions in parallel, significantly reducing latency, and delivered a switch that could move packets from one port to another in less than 250 nanoseconds.  This is less than a third of the latency of our current generation Nexus 3000, and about half of what full-featured switches from our competitors can do.  This latency comes without compromise, running line rate and it holds true for layer 2 and layer 3, unicast and multicast, for all packet sizes, with any feature enabled, even with NAT.

But we weren’t done. We wanted to do better than 250 nanoseconds!

Our engineers came up with another innovative solution – storing different types of data in the same table! This allows the switch to do multiple functions with a single lookup operation, resulting in an additional 20% reduction in port-to-port latency. We named this Warp mode!  The Nexus 3548 running in “warp mode” offers latencies as low as 190 nanoseconds for small to medium sized Layer 2 and Layer 3 deployments.

But guess what! We even went further than 190 ns!

The Nexus 3548 switch also facilitates the efficient delivery of stock market data to financial trading servers in as little as 50 nanoseconds with the warp SPAN feature.  Cisco Nexus 3548 switch latency speeds were verified using Spirent TestCenter  across various workloads using testing specifications developed jointly with Spirent Communications.


But it is not just about the speed only, is it?

To give customers a view into how much latency is being introduced by microbursts, Cisco Algo Boost analytical framework includes active buffer monitoring that provides highly granular data and pro-active notifications on switch congestion.  Compared to software-driven techniques that take periodic snapshots of the packet buffer, Algo Boost utilizes hardware to provide millisecond-level polling to form rich histograms, charting buffer usage over time. This empowers trading firms and exchanges to rapidly evolve their infrastructures to turn market volatility into opportunity.

Algo Boost also comes with forwarding features that are critical for Financial Institutions. A requirement to trade on many modern exchanges is to place all orders from the exchange’s IP space.  A trading firm may want to trade with more servers than they have IP addresses, or trade on multiple exchanges simultaneously, which means they need a way to translate IP addresses between domains.  Algo Boost supports hitless Network Address Translation, allowing algorithmic traders to connect to any trading exchanges they desire – faster and easier.

To assist with programmability and control, Nexus 3548 supports features such as embedded event manager and python scripting, and is future proofed for the core components of the Cisco Open Networking Environment we announced at Cisco Live back in June.

Precision time is delivered through a hardware-assisted implementation of Precision Time Protocol.  Compared to today’s implementation on the current generation Nexus 3000, the Nexus 3548 achieves higher levels of synchronization, and allows for measurement of the environment through a pulse per second output.  Improved time synchronization across the fabric also enables greater transparency for internal compliance, as well as conformance with external legal and regulatory requirements.

Combining PTP time stamping with built-in line-rate advanced SPAN and Encapsulated Remote SPAN traffic filtering capabilities in the Nexus 3548 enables to send the monitored traffic to a different destination for further examination and analysis.


Cisco offers high performance networks and systems that are optimized for ensuring performance under many complex variables such as microbursts, massive price movements, high performance computing, big data etc…  The new Nexus 3548 integrated with Algo Boost technology, as part of the Cisco Unified Fabric, delivers breakthrough latency performance, superior visibility and control to give our customers a competitive edge that others simply cannot offer!

Take a look at these resources for more information on the Cisco Algorithm Boost and Nexus 3548.

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  1. Cisco has been known for years to offer high performance networking devices. This is just an upgrade of what they have always provided superior visibility and control.

  2. Hi,

    Can you please advise when this product will be available for ordering and shipment?