Adaptec to Launch New Network Accelerator Card

Card offloads TCP/IP processing from Intel or AMD-based Linux servers.

Adaptec Inc. on Monday will move further away from its storage roots and into networking with the launch of a new network accelerator card that offloads TCP/IP processing from Intel or AMD-based Linux servers.

The new Adaptec NAC 7711 adapter is targeted at high-performance computing applications where the latency introduced by TCP/IP protocol processing creates performance bottlenecks.

Those applications address vertical markets such as oil and gas exploration, bio-informatics, scientific computing and financial applications. The Milpitas, Calif., company is also targeting horizontal applications such as high-end databases, backup and restore, file serving and network-attached storage.

"Genome analysis and real-time analysis of financial data are extremely network intensive. They put a lot of load on the network. Even with Gigabit Ethernet, there are a lot of bottlenecks because of TCP/IP overhead," asserted Vijay Ramaswamy, manager of product marketing in Milpitas.

The NAC 7711 is a Gigabit Ethernet adapter with an onboard application-specific integrated circuit chip that offloads TCP/IP protocol processing from Linux servers operating in a grid or cluster. The ASIC, dubbed the TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE), lowers the latency of the adapter by as much as 40 percent compared to existing network interface cards (NICs), Ramaswamy claims.

The NAC works best for compute clusters that have a sustained TCP connection and exchange a large amount of data. It addresses the latency introduced by interprocess communications between compute nodes that share a computing task, but is not intended to accelerate TCP/IP processing of Web servers—which typically exchange small amounts of data and do not have a sustained TCP connection.

"You are effectively adding another processor to your server to do a specialized task. For certain TCP/IP-based activities, you get better performance and lower latency," reacted James Opfer, a research vice president at Gartner Inc.s storage group in San Jose, Calif.

Adaptecs NAC will compete with a similar offering from Alacritech Inc., which also markets a TCP/IP Offload Engine. Adaptecs NAC 7711 is due out on Monday and is priced at $995 for a fiber optic version and $895 for a copper version. It supports Linux Redhat 7.X and 8.0.