Finally, 10-Gigabit Ethernet (10GE) is taking off. Yet it's finding more homes in metro networks, local-area-network (LAN) backbones, and data centers than in long-haul fiber networks. As more PCs and laptops get standard 1-Gigabit Ethernet ports, the greater becomes the need to aggregate all those computers and switches on the LAN. The growing back-office software, e-mail, and Internet traffic, plus increased multimedia content, also push the need for greater LAN speed. That's where 10GE comes in.
Another expanding area for 10GE is short-range server connectivity in data centers with server bottlenecks. Intel's PRO/10GbE SR Server Adapter is designed for data-center connectivity. In the past, 10GE proved cost-prohibitive. With this new adapter, 10GE over multimode fiber (MMF)—the predominant cable type in data centers—becomes practical.
The adapter uses XPAC small-form-factor optical transceivers to lower cost by up to 40% over previously available designs. It plugs into a standard 64-bit, 133-MHz PCI-X server slot and uses the 850-nm transceiver to achieve reliable data transmission up to 300 meters. Due to these features, data centers can use fewer 1GE connections, reducing cabling requirements by up to a 6:1 ratio. The higher throughput also conserves the number of PCI-X server slots by up to a 3:1 ratio.
The PRO/10GbE SR Server Adapter is fully IEEE 802.3ae 10GBASE-SR-compliant. It uses Intel's IPX-2800 network processor to offload some operations like TCP/IP segmentation and checksums, delaying and reducing TX and RX frame interrupts, and support for jumbo frames up to 16 kbytes. This reduces server CPU utilizations, which improves performance dramatically. Support for 802.3x flow control is provided.
Intel also is working with vendors like Cisco to foster the increased use of 10GE in data centers. The adapter is interoperable with Cisco's Catalyst 6500 series switches, which are designed to improve data-center operation.
The PRO/10GbE SR Server Adapter is available now for $4700. Later this summer, Intel will announce the PRO/10GbE LR Server Adapter. This unit offers longer-range connectivity up to 10 km using a 1310-nm optical transceiver.