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Next-gen NIC chips woo developers with Linux drivers

Jul 26, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Siliquent has introduced two chips supporting 4GB and 10GB Ethernet, respectively, along with iWarp, iSCSI, and TCP/IP Offload. The SLQ1004 and SLQ1010 target equipment for unified Ethernet networks integrating LAN, remote storage, and IPC (inter-process communication) traffic. They are available with reference cards and Linux drivers.

(Click for slightly larger view of SLQ1010-RDK reference board

Based on emerging standards

Siliquent says the new chips meet emerging standards with “significant” industry support, including:

  • iWarp, an alternative to Infiniband that specifies remote direct memory access (RDMA) over TCP/IP. “RDMA places data directly from the CPU into the application memory, eliminating the performance hit that occurs as the result of memory-to-memory copies,” according to Siliquent.
  • TCP/IP Offload, which relieves the system CPU from performing Ethernet protocol processing functions
  • iSCSI, which provides an Ethernet alternative to Fibre Channel and lowers the overall cost of ownership of a storage area network (SAN), according to Siliquent.

As a future-proofing measure, the chips also include patent-pending programmable “microcode” engines that can be flashed with support for evolving TCP/IP and upper layer protocols (ULPs) via field upgrades, according to Siliquent.

The 10Gbps SLQ1010

Siliquent calls the SLQ1010 “the highest performance device on the market today,” with “full 10 Gbps wire speed under 'real life' network conditions.” The chip is available with both PCI-X 133 MHz/64-bit and SPI-4.2 host interfaces. According to Siliquent, it delivers 7.9Gbps across the PCI-X bus, the maximum possible today. It achieves a measured throughput of 19.6 Gbps in full duplex mode across the SPI-4.2 host interface, however, “and will therefore be capable of driving applications based on the higher throughput PCI Express bus,” the company says.

Additional statistics claimed for the SLQ1010 include:

  • power requirements as low as 5.5 watts at 10Gbps in a PCI-X system
  • latency under 10 microseconds (10 times better than existing Ethernet chips)
  • CPU utilization under 10 percent in a 1.4GHz uniprocessor Opteron server (60-70 times better than a standard NIC), and less in multiple processor systems

Siliquent claims the SLQ1010's combination of low CPU utilization and low latency will enable high-performance computing applications to migrate from Fiber channel to commodity Ethernet parts for cost savings.

The SLQ1010's support for iSCSI will enable storage equipment vendors to leverage fully offloaded iSCSI at 10 Gigabit data rates, and will bring block-level storage system speeds to NFS (network file system) users, Siliquent says.

The 4Gbps SLQ1004

Siliquent says its SLQ1004 processor is designed for use on quad Gigabit Ethernet NICs that can integrate easily with existing Gigabit Ethernet networks, while delivering throughputs of up to 4 Gbps. It can be used to aggregate Gigabit Ethernet ports for increased throughput, or to maintain port independence for a variety of different networking functions like IPC, storage, or clustering. Power consumption is a low 4.5 watts, Siliquent says, and the SLQ1004 uses the same driver software as the SQL1004, “ensuring a smooth migration to 10 Gigabit Ethernet.”

Additional SLQ1004 features listed by Siliquent include:

  • IP-fragment reassembly
  • jumbo frame support
  • Quality of Service (QoS)
  • programmable flow control
  • support for IPsec, VLAN, IPv4. and IPv6

“Siliquent's new family of devices deliver on the industry vision of a 'unified wire' based on Ethernet that can be used for the convergence of LAN, storage and IPC traffic,” said Siliquent CEO Charles Chi. “Our high-performance Ethernet processors enable new NICs that leverage the existing IT infrastructure, simplify equipment deployment and make data center management more efficient.”

Availability

The SLQ1004 is currently sampling, and will reach production in Q4 priced at $295. It is available with an SLQ1004-RDK NIC reference design kit including a 1/2-PCI reference card and Linux reference drivers.

The SQL1010 is currently sampling, and will reach production in Q4 priced at $495. An SLQ1010-RDK is available now, including a 1/2 PCI card form factor design and Linux reference drivers. It can be used with optical (850nm or 1310nm) or copper (CX4) transmitters.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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