Intel Offers Unified Networking Technology

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The Intel 82599 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller now offers support for Open FCoE for unified networking.

Intel has introduced new capabilities to its 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapters that enable all data center traffic to run over a single cable, making it easier to consolidate servers and storage into a unified network infrastructure. Intel says its X520 adapters will support Open FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet), providing customers an alternative to proprietary approaches to converged networking.

FCoE is a protocol that can connect servers with Fibre Channel storage networks, offering the potential to reduce the number of interface connections on each server. Intel said it has worked closely with leading IT companies key industry leaders to ensure a strong ecosystem of compatible solutions. Companies supporting the Open FCoE solution include Cisco, Dell, EMC, NetApp, Oracle and Red Hat. The Intel Open FCoE software stack is available as a free upgrade on existing X520 family products.

“Expanding Intel Ethernet to include Open FCoE will help simplify the network and drive more of the IT budget toward innovation,” said Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager, Data Center Group at Intel. “We think IT departments can lower infrastructure costs by 29 percent, reduce power by almost 50 percent and cut cable costs by 80 percent by moving to a unified network.”

Intel’s Open FCoE integrates capabilities into the operating system to deliver full unified networking without the need for additional expensive, proprietary hardware. IT departments can use common management tools for server network and storage connectivity while integrating seamlessly with existing Fibre Channel environments.

Here’s a roundup of some of the early analysis and commentary from IT news outlets:

  • The Register – According to Intel’s Tom Swinford, if the world converted all its Fibre Channel–happy virtualized servers to what Intel calls Intel Open FCoE, the world would save $3 billion in hardware and power costs and 400,000,000 feet of cable. Swinford said, the average virtualized server has eight to ten 1GbE connectors and two Fibre Channel connectors, and Intel’s setup can take all that down to a pair of 10GbE connectors.
  • CRN - Intel has been working with the Linux community to develop Open FCoE and with the IEEE Data Center Bridging standards group to get Ethernet in shape to handle Open FCoE traffic, according to Swinford. Cisco, EMC, Dell, NetApp, Oracle and Red Hat have all built support for FCoE into their products.
  • EnterpriseStorageForum.com – While Intel is best known as a silicon vendor, Open FCoE is a free software upgrade. Steve Schultz, director of product marketing in Intel’s LAN Access Division, explained that Intel’s 82599 controller has Data Path Offload technology to help accelerate FCoE. The 82599 and X520 started shipping in the middle of 2009, and all of these adapters and servers can now be upgraded to Open FCoE with no additional silicon required.

Intel partners offered their support for the intiative.

“Open FCoE fits well with Dell’s delivery of open, capable, and affordable solutions because it utilizes components in the operating system to simplify the deployment and operation of converged networks,” said Brian Payne, executive director, PowerEdge Marketing Group, Dell.

“The Cisco Nexus 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches and the Cisco Unified Computing System servers both support Intel’s Open FCoE 10 Gigabit Ethernet adapters to provide our customers with greater choice for cost-effective, scalable unified fabric access,” said Soni Jiandani, vice president of marketing, Server Access and Virtualization Technology Group, Cisco.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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