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Real World Review: Small Tree's Edge-corE ES4548D

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 06
Column Tag: Real World Reviews

Real World Review: Small Tree's Edge-corE ES4548D

Cost effective, high-bandwidth switch for your network

By Dennis Sellers and Neil Ticktin

Small Tree's Edge-corE ES4548D

The Need

Everyone talks about wireless, but when it comes to fast, reliable, trouble free connectivity, a wired Ethernet connection is still king. All of Apple's machines come with gigabit Ethernet, but that's only part of the solution. Sure, there are cheap 5-port switches, but what if you need 24- or 48-ports? Gigabit for all those ports? It'll cost you an arm and a leg, right? Not necessarily.

MacTech has been using a solution in house, and put it through a variety of real world scenarios and every day use for a sustained period of time.

Enter Small Tree's Edge-corE ES4548D

If you need a L2 Gigabit Ethernet switch for bandwidth-intensive networks you might check out Small Tree's Edge-corE ES4548D. It's designed for networks that need advanced switching features such as line-rate rate performance, dynamic 802.3ad link aggregation, IPv6 support, security, high availability and advance QoS to the network edge while offering the simplicity of traditional LAN switching.

The Edge-Core ES4548D is designed for high performance server aggregations, such as enterprise data centers, to connect high-end or network attached file servers over copper ports. High-speed workgroups backbone upgrades, and Gigabit to the desktop for power users. The whole stack can be managed as a single entity with a single IP address.

The ES4548D sports 44 x 10/100/1000Base-T + 4 Gigabit Combo (RJ45/SFP) ports with Gigabit Ethernet link on all ports. Its advanced QoS features are for "triple play" performance, while the switch is very scalable. It has a forwarding rate of 71.5Mpps, a MAC Address Table size of 8K and a switching capacity of 96Gbps. With its 96Gbps switching capacity, the ES4548D delivers wire-speed switching performance on all gigabit ports. There are four Gigabit Ethernet combo ports for uplink flexibility, allowing copper or fiber uplinks.

IEEE 802.1w Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol provides a loop-free network and redundant links to the core network with rapid convergence. IEEE 802.1s Multiple Spanning Tree Protocol runs STP per VLAN base, providing Layer 2 load sharing on redundant links. IEEE 802.3ad (LACP) is designed to increase bandwidth by automatically aggregating several physical links together as a logical trunk and providing load balancing and fault tolerance for uplink connections.

IGMP snooping prevents flooding of IP multicast traffic and limits bandwidth intensive video traffic to only the subscribers.

Comprehensive QoS support with 8 egress queues per port enable differentiated management of up to eight traffic types. Traffic is prioritized according to 802.1p, DSCP, IP precedence and TCP/UDP port number; the goal is to give optimal performance to real-time applications such as voice and video. Asymmetric bidirectional rate-limiting, per port or per traffic class, preserves network bandwidth and allows maximum control of network resources.

IEEE 802.1Q-in-Q allows the service provider to provide certain services, such as Internet access on specific VLANs for specific customers. It provides other types of services for their other customers on other VLANs.

Port Security ensures access to a switch port based on MAC address. IEEE 802.1X port-based or MAC-based access control makes sure that all users are authorized before being granted access to the network. User authentication is implemented via any standard-based RADIUS server. Access Control Lists (ACLs) can be used to restrict access to sensitive network resources by denying packets based on source and destination MAC addresses, IP addresses, TCP/UDP ports.

SSL, Web Management Encryption, RADIUS and TACACS+ are designed to protect data communication and ensure data privacy. What's more, Private VLAN isolates edge ports to ensure user privacy.

You configure the ES4548D by using the web-based graphical user interface. Industry standard Command Line Interface (CLI) via console port, Telnet or SSH provides a common user interface and command set for users to manipulate the switch.

Web Interface

Four groups of RMON are supported. You can back-up and restore firmware and configuration files via TFTP.

The ES4548D supports IPv6 management, QoS and security to help you get ready for future transition to IPv6. IPv6 can support an exponentially greater number of IP addresses compared to IPv4. The internals of the IPv6 protocol have been designed for scalability and extensibility. This means that a variety of different kinds of devices besides computers, such as cell phones and home appliances, will be able to more easily join the Internet in future, according to the folks at Small Tree.

The ES4548D lists for $2,024. Also, Small Tree offers an optional redundant power supply for the ES4548D that provides uninterrupted power.

But, Is It Worth It?

All the details are nice, but the end result is what is really important. Is it worth upgrading 100 Mbps switches to Gigabit?

Not every application can take advantage of the faster bandwidth, but in our testing, some of the most burdensome network issues (such as backups and file copies) really fly. In real world scenarios, we continually saw a 4-6x speed improvement over what 100 Mbps delivered under the same scenarios. Even interaction with the email servers when sending enclosures was noticeably faster. We often saw backups run, even with slower machines as clients, at nearly 1 gigabyte per minute (i.e., approximately 480 Mbps).

So, is it worth it? Definitely. At least that's what we found with Small Tree's ES4548D. You get the performance of some of the "name" brands, for a reasonable price.

Neil Ticktin is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of MacTech Magazine. Neil has been in the Mac industry since 1985, has developed software, written documentation, and been heading up the magazine since 1992. When Neil does a benchmark article, he likes to test the features that people will use in real-life scenario and then write about that experience from the user point of view. Drop him a line at

Dennis Sellers is a long time journalist. He started in the newspaper business, but has been in the online journalism business for the past 15 years. He's the editor/publisher of Macsimum News (


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