NetXen, a maker of hardware-accelerated 10GbE (10-Gigabit Ethernet) LAN cards, has just introduced a set of software drivers for Linux systems. The company claims that with this hardware/software combo users should see great network performance without incurring increased host CPU overhead.
NetXen says its network acceleration technology requires no modifications to the Linux kernel or the TCP/IP network stack or applications, and can offload both user- and kernel-mode applications.
Using a driver technology called LSA (Linux Sockets Acceleration), the technology provides stateful network acceleration. In a stateful network, network devices track the condition of network connections.
This information is vital for providing QoS (quality of service) services. Unfortunately, tracking stateful information can eat up 70 to 80 percent of your network processing workload.
By putting this processor burden on the 10GbE NICs instead, the servers CPU can spend more of its time working on its core jobs instead of fussing with stateful network management. NetXens LSA supports both NIC (network interface card) and offload modes simultaneously. The companys new Intelligent NIC loads the LSA drivers and software and the card takes over the job.
These capabilities cover not only the datapath, but connection set-up and teardown, connection state management, and error handling as well. This socket-level acceleration allows users to take advantage of the OS stack bypass without recompiling the Linux kernel or modifying applications.
The end result, NetXen claims, is that by simply plugging in the card and loading drivers, users nearly double network performance for 1500-byte packets while decreasing CPU utilization by a factor of two.