Broadcom Controllers Offload Virtual Switch Traffic from Servers
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Broadcom Controllers Offload Virtual Switch Traffic from Servers

Vendor unveils data center network controllers for the shift to 25/50G Ethernet

Moving to provide IT organizations with a way to offload virtual switch traffic from servers, Broadcom today unveiled 10G/25G/40G/50G Ethernet controllers, called the NetXtreme C-Series, aimed at data center environments that need to make the most efficient use of server capacity possible. The controllers make use of a Truflow processing engine developed by Broadcom.

Relying on servers to process virtual switch traffic amounts to a waste of valuable CPU capacity that could be better allocated to applications that generate actual revenue, Jim Dworkin, director of product marketing for controller at Broadcom, said.

Rather than continuing to buy 10G and 40G Ethernet technologies, Dworkin said, some data center operators are already making a rapid shift to 25/50G Ethernet technologies that offer significantly better price-performance ratios. In fact, 40G Ethernet will soon represent a class of orphan technologies in the data center, he added.

Many IT organizations will make the shift to 25/50G Ethernet technologies when they upgrade their IT infrastructure. Broadcom has also established direct relationships with advanced operators of data centers that often have the engineering talent needed to build and deploy their own IT infrastructure.

While acknowledging that making use of controllers to offload virtual switch processing is something of a religious debate, Dworkin noted that each VM on a server creates its own virtual switch. Server vendors, he added, have a vested interest in processing that traffic on servers because it drives up overall demand for server capacity. Broadcom contends that traffic is more efficiently processed on network infrastructure, thereby freeing up server capacity.

“A virtual switch is a tax on the server that comes in the software,” Dworkin said. “Offloading that function to the controller can accelerate performance by as much as 50 percent.”

Broadcom claims it’s not unusual to see as much as 33 percent of server processing being allocated to virtual switches as the number of VMs that get deployed inside a data center starts to increase substantially.

While it may take a while for every IT organization to make the shift to 25/50G Ethernet, the combination of better price-performance and the ability to offload virtual switch traffic in dense data center environments will be fairly compelling. As such, Broadcom is betting many of the operators will not be waiting for permission from server vendors to make the transition.

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