Sun to Add 10 Gigabit Ethernet to Servers

The company will work with S2io Technologies to integrate 10G-bps Ethernet drivers into Sun's servers and to develop a TCP/IP offload engine with RDMA functionality.

Sun Microsystems Inc. is looking to build 10 Gigabit Ethernet capabilities into its servers.

Sun on Monday is announcing a deal with S2io Technologies Inc. to integrate drivers for that companys Xframe 10G-bps Ethernet Adapter into its Solaris operating system for all of its servers, including those powered by its own SPARC processor as well as Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron and Intel Corp.s Xeon chips.

In addition, the two companies said they will work together to develop a TCP/IP offload engine with RDMA functionality.

RDMA, or Remote Direct Memory Access, increases performance by enabling one server to place data directly into the memory of another server, bypassing the operating system. The offload engines increase CPU efficiency and offer higher throughput.

The goal is eventually to roll out servers that offer greater throughput, performance and scalability, according to officials with Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif.

With the rise of networked computing—including scale-out environments, utility computing and grids—interconnect technology has grown in importance over the past few years. InfiniBand has received much of the attention as a fast connection between servers, but has found the greatest traction in the high-performance computing space. Now, according to Dave Zabrowski, president and CEO of S2io, 10G-bps Ethernet is coming into focus.

Ethernet advocates say a key advantage 10G bps has over InfiniBand is that Ethernet already is present in many data centers, while InfiniBand requires a new fabric.

Zabrowski said he expects to see the technology in more products this year, with a strong ramp up in 2005. Sun is the second company to adopt S2ios Xframe adapters. In May, Silicon Graphics Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., said it would use the adapters in five of its product lines.

In servers, the adapters are placed in a standard PCI-X slot, giving business up to eight times the performance over Gigabit Ethernet while reducing latency by 50 percent and reducing cabling by up to eight times, according to Cupertino, Calif.-based S2io. In storage systems, the Xframe will improve network-attached storage speeds by up to five times over existing 2G-bps Fibre Channel technologies.

Zabrowski said that Suns decision to include 10G-bps Ethernet in its systems is an indication that Sun appears to have found its footing after the industrys economic slide of the past few years.

"If you look at more than two or so years ago, Sun was one of the technology leaders," Zabrowski said. "Post-bubble, it was a different story. [Now] these guys are reinvigorating their technical roadmaps."

The offload engines and RDMA protocol are aimed at reducing the bottleneck at the interface between servers by enabling shared memory with no need for copying, and by bypassing the CPU kernel.


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