Dell S5232F-ON Hands-on A Vastly Improved 32-port 100GbE Switch


Open Networking Software

By default, many of these switches came with Dell OS10. We are going to let our readers look at OS10 and the switch documentation for specific features. It is difficult to try getting a complete list since there are hundreds of features our readers care about. One advantage here is that this is still supported under OS10 unlike the S5100F-ON series and support extends well beyond just Dell’s NOS. Instead, we wanted to focus on some of the options out there if one does not want to run Dell OS10. After all, this is a “-ON” open networking switch.

First, we need to start with SONiC. SONiC is perhaps the biggest player in the space. If you wanted an open networking solution, this would probably be what we would recommend. Indeed, we have had guides on SONiC since around the time that this switch was released such as Get started with 40GbE SDN with Microsoft Azure SONiC. When we look at the SONiC hardware support page and look for Dell switches, the S5232F-ON is present supported by the SONiC-ONIE-Broadcom line.

SONiC Support Page Dell
SONiC Support Page Dell

We will quickly note here that the Dell options on this page are all based on Broadcom Trident or Tomahawk chips, not the XPliant chips the previous generation was based on. Marvell just announced it is acquiring Innovium for its high-end switch ASIC, and Innovium focused on selling to hyper-scalers had an offering catering specifically to SONiC. You can see Inside an Innovium Teralynx 7-based 32x 400GbE Switch on STH, but Innovium was very focused on hyper-scale markets and thus built a core competency around SONiC.

Another big one is Cumulus. NVIDIA acquired Cumulus Networks and looking for Dell switches on their page is very similar. We again have Broadcom options with the S5232F-ON listed.

NVIDIA Cumulus Support Page Dell
NVIDIA Cumulus Support Page Dell

Something we will note here is that NVIDIA Cumulus Linux does not support the two front SFP+ ports at this time according to the notes. NVIDIA says similar switches are the Cisco Nexus 3132C-Z and Arista 7050CX3-32S. We did not look at the 7050CX3-32S, but we did take a look Inside the Arista DCS-7060CX-32S 32x 100GbE Switch based on the Tomahawk:

We tend not to use Open Switch just given the scale and momentum of SONiC. Still, we will quickly note we saw the S5232F-ON on that HCL:

Dell Open Switch Hardware Support Page
Dell Open Switch Hardware Support Page

To us, this is a better value switch than the S5100F-ON series because it is supported by more common 3rd party distributions. If one really wants Open Networking, then having support for open networking distributions seems to be an important characteristic.

Next, we are going to look at power consumption and noise before getting to our final words.


  1. Interesting article – thank you. I was a bit confused by the 124x 25G part, since the switch spec sheet specifically states support for 128x 25G.

  2. It is a typo in the table. In the text in the spec sheet it says:

    In addition to 100GbE Spine/Leaf deployments, the S5232F-ON can also be used in high density deployments using breakout cables to achieve up to 128 10GbE or 128 25GbE ports.

    Also in older spec sheets it lists the same 128 25GbE port.

  3. We always go by spec tables if there is no clear abundance of documentation otherwise. The 10GbE ports are listed as 124 in the table and 128 in the text as well. Dell has had years to produce correct documentation and we have to assume the table is correct since that is what most people read and has the most specs.

  4. Did you by any chance get serial-over-lan to work on the BMC. I’ve tried this at one point, bit never succeeded. Also, Dell support and others further in the organization was not of much help. It seems like something that should just work.

    Did you get sonic into a working state? One of my colleagues didn’t find it easy to get ports configured with the open version and gave up in the end.


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