The TigerSwitch XFE, from Standard Microsystems (SMC), is worth a look for mid-size organisations in need of a hub that supports both Ethernet and Fast Ethernet. At $5,100 (RRP), the TigerSwitch is a great buy.
(Yes, SMC did sell its TigerSwitch XE product to Cabletron Systems last year, but it has recently re-entered the low-end switch market.) From the outside, the TigerSwitch is fairly basic. There are 16 switched 10Base-T Ethernet ports and one 100Base-TX Fast Ethernet port. The unit has a single LED for each port, tracking link status and activity. In addition, there is a nine-pin serial port for accessing terminal-based (out-of-band) management.
The TigerSwitch fits in well with SMC's TigerStack line of stackable workgroup hubs, because the TigerSwitch allows for micro-segmentation of as many as four separate collision domains (seven ports each) per unit. This capability allows you to use the TigerSwitch as the perfect hybrid between large port density workgroup segment switching and desktop switching, in which each client gets its own dedicated switched 10Mbit/sec port. The result is a number of low port-density segments flowing into the switch, which lets you effectively manage your bandwidth without having to go to desktop switching.
The TigerSwitch uses a store-and-forward architecture and has a 2Mb, dynamically allocated packet buffer to handle packet overflow. This means that the packet buffer is shared between the ports. And if one port needs more buffer space, it can get it from the 2Mb aggregate pool.
The product's address table supports 16,000 media access control (MAC) addresses per switch, offering quite a bit of device capacity.
The downside of the TigerSwitch is that it lacks any expansion module support; there are no expansion bays.
Furthermore, if you want to stack multiple switches, you'll have to use the only 100Base-TX port on the switch, because there is no high-speed data cascade.
This allows you to stack only two units with no connection to the backbone, leaving you shopping for a 100Mbit/sec switch.
Managing the TigerSwitch menu-based terminal was fairly easy. I accessed the unit's built-in SNMP management module out-of-band using an ANSI-based terminal emulator and a null-modem cable. I did quite a bit of management from the out-of-band terminal session, such as performing basic configuration, as well as viewing port and unit statistics.
I also could enable security restrictions by filtering MAC addresses at the port level.
Although the TigerSwitch offers fairly powerful management capabilities, you'll have to wait for version 4.4 of SMC's EliteView management software to get graphical distributed management from the TigerSwitch.
Currently, the SMC hub does not support virtual LANs or RMon but does offer a port-mirroring capability, which lets you use an RMon probe or protocol analyser to monitor other ports on the switch. Though this feature works only with the 10Mbit/sec Ethernet ports, it is a welcome addition.
The Bottom Line: Good
This product provides adequate mid-range switch capabilities for small, high-throughput implementations. However, the backbone support doesn't extend beyond Fast EthernetPros: Provides 10Mbit/sec and 100Mbit/ sec switching; strong management capabilities; support for RMon probesCons: Limited expansion capability; no support for cut-through switching, virtual LANs, and RMon statisticsPrice: $5,100Platforms: Ethernet, Fast EthernetSMCTel: 1800 502 250ÊFax: (02) 9238 2220 info: http://www.smc.com