Feeds

10GBase-T: overheated and out of spec?

New silicon means less power, more range, Solarflare says

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016
Flash WORM has a serious use for archived photos and videos
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.