Feeds

10GBase-T: overheated and out of spec?

New silicon means less power, more range, Solarflare says

High performance access to file storage

Companies touting full TCP offload engines (TOEs) for 10Gig Ethernet are barking up the wrong tree - and worse than that, they do not comply with the specs for 10GBase-T, a chipset supplier has claimed.

"When Gigabit Ethernet came out, servers could only handle 300Mbit/s [of TCP processing], so people are worried about how to offload that into hardware," Solarflare Communications CTO Dr Steve Pope said, adding that processors are faster now, so no one much feels the need for Gigabit TOEs.

"Similarly, when 10Gig came out in 2001, servers could only do 3Gbit/s. Now you can do line-rate Ethernet with less than one core of a multicore CPU."

The big problem with 10Gig TOEs is power consumption. The current generation can consume in excess of 10W, and combined with the power drawn by the PHY - the chip that interfaces to the physical medium - they can push the NIC too close to the 25W limit of each PCIe slot in a server.

So some NIC developers have ratcheted down the range of their NICs to reduce power consumption. For example, Chelsio specs its TOE cards to around 35-50m.

Pope is distinctly unimpressed by that approach. "The spec mandates 100m. 30m may cover most data centres, but there's a whole ecosystem of architects, structured cabling companies and so on, all based around Ethernet going 100m."

He has an interest here, of course - his company has developed a 10Gig Ethernet controller called Solarstorm that only partially offloads the processor, but he claims that his "slim offload" approach can drive the signal 100m while still only consuming 2.2W.

"We have a second generation 10Gig Ethernet controller," he said. "We chose to implement only those features in silicon that will provide sustainable performance - in particular, we have avoided burdening the chip with heavy offload.

"We do the usual stateless offloads - IP, UDP and TCP checksums, iSCSI headers and data digest, and Windows receive-side scaling. And we have virtualisation, with a fully-protected hardware interface so you can plumb it directly into a guest operating system."

His company is the result of a transatlantic merger. The original Solarflare in the US developed a PHY for 10GBase-T, while UK-based Level5 Networks designed the 10Gig Ethernet controller.

Solarflare's aim, Pope said, is to deliver a 10GBase-T card at the same cost as a four-port Gigabit card - or rather, to sell silicon and reference designs to other companies which will then build the NICs.

"There will be products by mid-year," he said. "There are switch vendors working with us too, and we expect switches in the same timeframe." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.