A Steady Tide of 10 GbE Solutions

Arthur Cole

The march to 10 GbE connectivity continues apace with a host of new solutions on the market aimed at boosting capabilities to a level on par with Fibre Channel.


Getting a lot of notice of late is BlueArc's Titan 2500 NAS/iSCSI system, which is now available with 10 GbE support. The move means you won't have to aggregate a series of 1 Gbps Ethernet runs anymore, a solution that increased bandwidth but required additional network switches and other devices. End-to-end 10 GbE, however, boosts connectivity to the point where iSCSI, which is already less costly than Fibre Channel, starts to look like a more viable SAN alternative in terms of reliability and efficiency.


IBM is on board with 10 GbE connectivity, turning to NetXen for the new Ethernet SR adapter on the System x server. The adapter is based on NetXen's Intelligent NIC system that offers support for offloading TCP/IP, iSCSI and RDMA protocols to cut down on CPU utilization.


IBM is also pursuing unified wire solutions for its BladeCenter line, a technology that allows server, storage and clustered networking on a single platform. The company has embraced the S320em-bc solution from Chelsio Communications as part of the Blade.org standard. The system also offers protocol offloading to free the CPU for other tasks, but it also adheres to the Open Fabrics Enterprise Distribution model, allowing it to run InfiniBand on top of Ethernet. And combined with the company's iSCSI target stack, it can even run Fibre Channel.


And coming out soon will be a 20-port 10 GbE switch from Fujitsu that offers 100+ Gbps non-blocking, aggregate switching bandwidth and built-in QoS capability. The chip uses a proprietary multi-stream 3 MB shared buffer memory to deliver wirespeed switching at full cross-sectional bandwidth.


10 GbE's backers say the format has a bright future, considering today's costs are bound to come down as economies of scale kick in. And if motherboard designers start to look at it as standard fare, it won't be long before 10 GbE costs as little as 1 GbE does today.

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