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Intel gifts world open source FCoE

Vows to save 400,000,000 feet of cable

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Intel has officially introduced its Open FCoE software stack, based on the native OS Fibre Channel Over Ethernet project it first open sourced in 2007.

Intel Open FCoE is free for use with Intel's X520 family of 10 GbE (Gigabit Ethernet) server adaptors, and it has been qualified for Microsoft Windows, Red Hat and SUSE Linux, switches from Cisco and Brocade, and storage hardware from EMC and Netapp.

Fibre Channel Over Ethernet lets you run, well, Fibre Channel Over Ethernet, bringing all your enterprise networking traffic onto one big fat cable. Ethernet is already the basis for NAS (network attached storage) and iSCSI storage. With Intel's setup, company man Tom Swinford told reporters on Thursday morning at a company press event in downtown San Francisco, you can attach Intel's standard 10GbE adapter to file-based storage, NAS hardware, an iSCSI box, or Fibre Channel over Ethernet.

According to Swinford, if the world converted all its Fibre Channel–happy virtualized servers to what Intel calls Intel Open FCoE, the world would save $3bn in hardware and power costs and 400,000,000 feet of cable. That's enough cable.

Today, Swinford said, the average virtualized server has eight to ten 1GbE connectors and two Fibre Channel connectors, and Intel's setup can take all that down to a pair of 10GbE connectors.

Swinford told us that the technology does offload some work onto hardware, but most of the stack runs in the OS. "Our approach is a little different than others: we're running all the Fibre Channel protocols on the host, instead of running it in proprietary hardware [on the networking adaptor]," Swinford said. "We have total flexibility. ... What we really want is for every server that ships with either our adapter or with LAN on motherboard to be able to support [Intel's FCoE]."

Citing Microsoft Exchange and MySQL benchmarks from an independent test house, Swinford said that the setup would not put an undo burden on the CPU. The tests, he said, never showed more than 5 per cent CPU utilization. And he boasted that the settup is designed to improve as servers improve. "As we continue to make stronger, more powerful processors, our performance will continue to get better," he said. ®

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