Ethernet Alliance

Ethernet Alliance Blog

Intel’s Romley Server Platform Launch: A Tipping Point for 10-Gigabit Ethernet

By Bruce Tolley

On March 6 Intel® launched the Xeon® E5-2600 family of processors, formerly code named Romley. This is big news for data centers and networking. All the server manufacturers big and small from A to Z will be shipping servers based on Romley. In other words, this platform will be the basis for computing for the next 2 to 3 years.

Highlights

New integrated PCI Express 3 bus
The current PCIe® 2 bus for server I/O uses 8b/10b encoding, operating at 5 GT/s.  On a PCIe x8 card, PCIe 2 can deliver a maximum bidirectional throughput of 20 Gbps per port.  PCIe 3 doubles the PCIe bandwidth by increasing the transfer rate 60% from 5 to 8 GT/sec and increasing the coding efficiency 23%, from 80 to to 98.5%. PCIe 3 therefore enables on a dual-port PCIe x8 card a theoretical maximum bidirectional throughput of 40 Gbps. In short, Romley promises a significant increase in server I/O by enabling full- bandwidth, four-port 10GbE server adapters as well as dual-port 40GbE server adapters. For more detail on how the PCIe 3 doubles the PCIe 2 bandwidth, see the table below and http://www.pcisig .com/news_room/faqs/pcie3.0_faq

 

PCIe 2

PCIe 3

Signaling rate per lane

5 GT/s

8 GT/s

Encoding

8b/10b

128b/130b

Coding efficiency

80%

98.5%

Max bandwidth per lane*

4 Gb/s

~8 Gb/s

 

 

 

Performance
Romley offers IT managers building clusters and data centers a very big speed increase, arguably bigger than the standard Moore’s law improvement. Intel states that Romley will deliver 80% more performance over the previous Westmere generation.  Why is this good for networking? If IT managers and network architects can find the right applications —many pundits point to cloud, virtualization, and big data —, those applications running on Romley servers can easily fill 10GbE pipes, and, after the time delay pointed out below, 40 GbE pipes. According to Crehan Research, in conjunction with the ramp of Romley-based servers, 10GbE port shipments are expected to become a majority of server ports by 2014, and to continue to increase as a portion of total ports through 2016. See http://www.crehanresearch.com/

Latency reductions
Unlike previous generations where I/O operations were managed by a different chip, the newly supported PCIe 3 functionality has been brought directly into the main processor.  This integration of I/O significantly reduces latency and improves data throughput. Latency matters to the early adopters who will pay real money for these servers, such as the high-frequency traders (HFT) in Chicago, London, and New York and high-performance compute (HPC) customers around the world.

Intel has also streamlined its caching architecture with a functionality called Intel Data Direct I/O (DDIO) that further reduces latency and increases energy efficiency and throughput.  With DDIO, a PCIe server adapter (or controller LOM) communicates directly to the processor’s last-level cache rather than making a detour to system memory on ingress or egress. 

Looking forward to the next 12 months
Romley will be a catalyst for a broad industry shift from 1 Gigabit to 10 Gigabit connections at the server access edge.  But analogous to the transition from PCIe 1.x to 2.0, it takes time and focus to develop the PCIe 3 ecosystem. Behind the scenes, Intel and the PCIe community (OEMs, adapter vendors, chipset vendors, IP vendors, and test equipment companies) are doing a lot of heavy lifting to promote interoperability testing and plugfests. Based on vendor press releases, initial applications appear to be mostly storage, graphics, and Infiniband PCIe cards. It is expected that PCIe 3 support for 10GbE and 40GbE server adapter cards will arrive in late 2012.

Bottom line
On the plus side, customers will see some amazing performance when plugging very fast PCIe 2 x8 10GbE server cards into Romley.  With first deployments, we should see the 10GbE switch to server attach rates dramatically increase and, over time, a move to 40GbE at the server access edge.

Bruce Tolley
Vice President, Solutions Marketing
Solarflare
btolley@solarflare.com
iPhone 650.862.1074
www.solarflare.com

 

 

Share

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share

Technology Exploration Forum Q&A With John D’Ambrosia

By John D'Ambrosia

 

What is the Technology Exploration Forum (TEF)?

The TEFs are an ongoing series of forums sponsored by the Ethernet Alliance to enable industry discussion and consensus building on various topics. The Ethernet Alliance organizes a TEF when we see the need for members of the Ethernet ecosystem to come together and communicate with each other about the continuing evolution of Ethernet and its potential impact on Ethernet standards and technology.

How will the upcoming TEF on Thursday, February 16, differ from past meetings?

This will be our sixth TEF. It is the first time that the agenda of the day is focusing solely on the end-user perspective. We are inviting CTO’s and other high-level end users to fully participate in the forum. The Ethernet industry has developed a great deal of technology over the last 10 years, and we want to get their perspective on how Ethernet can do a better job for them and their networks. This TEF will basically be a brainstorming session about what end users need and when they need it. Details about “The End Users Speak!” are available on the event page.

What key issues and concerns do you expect to discuss?

We are going into this TEF with no expectations other than focusing on the conversations taking place that day. There are always discussions going on between end users and their suppliers about various topics, such as increasing bandwidth, interoperability, and the need for low cost solutions. These conversations, however, need to happen at an industry level. This TEF will give everyone that has a vested interest in Ethernet’s evolution an opportunity to explore the exact nature of end users’ needs and discuss how to move forward, which might mean identifying needs for new standards and technologies.

What topics will be covered at the TEF?

We have 14 of the Ethernet industry’s best and brightest speakers that will offer up-to-the-minute information and their own Ethernet expertise and experience to attendees. The TEF will begin with a panel discussion on Ethernet in Future Data Centers. Speakers include Rao Ramanujam of Nationwide Insurance, Hartley Fred of Chevron and Matt Estes of Walt Disney.

The second panel will focus on Ethernet and the Heart of the Internet with Martin Pels of Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), Shamim Akhtar of Comcast and Jay Behrens of Frontier Communications. We are very fortunate to have Andy Bach of the NYSE Euronext delivering the keynote address at lunch to discuss the future of Ethernet and its ability to address his network demands. His talk will be followed by a panel addressing The Role of Power in Networks with Mike Bennett of LBNL, Una Song of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Bob Feldman of Google.

The Forum will close with talks from two speakers. Todd Roth of Harris will discuss Ethernet’s role in entertainment. Paul Nikolich, of YAS Broadband Ventures and Chair of IEEE 802 LAN MAN Sponsor Committee, will present a talk on The IEEE and Ethernet’s Future.

This is going to be an exciting and informative TEF. The Ethernet Alliance has always received positive feedback on these events. Everyone who attends will be very pleased that they made time for this event in their busy schedules.

Why are TEFs important?

This is very simple – these events enable the industry as a whole to gather and have an open and frank discussion on Ethernet and its future. Such conversations improve the industry’s focus on technology and standards development efforts. It also is important that all of the stakeholders in the Ethernet ecosystem participate in these discussions in order to enable the best solutions.   

Share

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share

Ethernet’s Continuing Expansion

By John D'Ambrosia

Congratulations to the group of individuals, who were successful at the IEEE 802 November Plenary at getting the IEEE 802.3TM EPON Protocol over Coax (EPoC) Study Group formed.  IEEE 802.3 EPON supports over 60 million subscribers today and is anticipated that it will support 100 million subscribers by the end of 2013.  Leveraging the EPoN protocols will enable the Ethernet community to address the needs of worldwide coax subscribers, which numbers into the hundreds of millions.
 
What an exciting opportunity for Ethernet.  As the ubiquitous networking technology, Ethernet continues to grow beyond the borders of its enterprise roots.  The new IEEE EPoC Study Group is just another example of the industry’s belief in Ethernet as THE networking technology.
 
From its inception the Ethernet Alliance has always espoused a philosophy that Ethernet goes from carriers to consumers.  Its very charter is to support the market expansion and continuing development of IEEE 802 Ethernet standards.  This latest effort represents another step in Ethernet’s continuing saga, and the Ethernet Alliance stands ready to support Ethernet, its members, and the industry.

John D’Ambrosia, Dell
Chair, Ethernet Alliance Board of Directors

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share

It’s Always an Exciting Time for Ethernet

By John D'Ambrosia

Technologies developed over the past several years are finding their way into the market.  10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) is the next big step in server interconnect technology, as products based on optical and copper SFP+ implementations to blade servers to 10GBASE-T are being continuously introduced. Such deployments are enabled by and will drive the need for 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40 GbE) and 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE) aggregation and core solutions. These interconnect products, enabled by Data Center Bridging, will drive network convergence in the data center. 10GEPON is being successfully deployed in access networks to support bandwidth intensive applications, like IPTV or video-on-demand. Energy Efficient Ethernet is being introduced to enable energy savings in networks. POE+ is enabling a whole new range of applications such as outdoor network cameras and thin clients. And let’s not forget all of the work going on to demonstrate the interoperability of various optical modules and cables.  

2011 has also seen the launch of new efforts. The first effort is the IEEE P802.3bj 100 Gb/s Backplane and Copper Cable Task Force. The Task Force, approved in September, will be specifying 100 GbE operation across backplanes and copper cables using a 4-lane architecture. In September, the Next Generation 100 Gb/s Optical Ethernet Study Group and the Extended EPON Study Group was formed. Also, coming up in November there will a meeting between the IEEE 802.1 and IEEE 802.3 Working Groups to discuss packet transmission pre-emption, which could be used in industrial and automotive applications, among others, as well as a  “Call for Interest” on using the EPON protocol over existing coaxial distribution networks. Finally, the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Bandwidth Assessment Ad hoc has been working all year on doing an industry bandwidth assessment, in order to understand future industry bandwidth requirements.

It’s always an exciting time for Ethernet, and all of the activities described above are opportunities for the Ethernet Alliance. Some may ask, “Why does Ethernet need a marketing alliance?” I suggest that those individuals review the previous two paragraphs. Look at the diversity of the solutions described. Consider the range of applications.  The Ethernet Alliance plays a valuable role in the industry, as it helps raise industry awareness on the various Ethernet solutions and potential applications, but consider the true hallmark of Ethernet – multi-vendor interoperability. People expect Ethernet to just work when they plug it in. That is the confidence the industry has in Ethernet. This is a testament to the strength of the IEEE standards process. However, such confidence doesn’t just happen. The value that the Ethernet Alliance provides by organizing the various interoperability demonstrations for the various Ethernet technologies cannot be overstated. 

The Ethernet Alliance is also looking to support the continuing development of Ethernet. In January it will host the IEEE 802.3 Interim Meeting. For more details see http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/802/3/interims/index.html. Furthermore, in February 2012 it will host its next Technology Exploration Forum – “The End Users Speak!”  For more details see http://ethernetalliance.org/event/tef-2012-the-end-user-speaks-2/. This event will bring together Ethernet’s users to have an open discussion on what they see as their needs for Ethernet in their networks. Facilitating discussion and industry consensus is another key activity supported by the Ethernet Alliance.

All of these efforts require individuals – volunteers – to make them happen. With that said, I would like to thank our outgoing President, Jim Theodoras of ADVA Optical Networking, for his efforts on behalf of the organization. Jim has been tireless as the Ethernet Alliance President, and no words can adequately describe his contribution. I would also like to welcome our incoming President, Scott Kipp of Brocade. Scott steps into this position of President with a wealth of experience, ideas, and energy. 

In 2012, keep your eyes open. 

John D’Ambrosia, Dell
Chair, Ethernet Alliance Board of Directors

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share

Five Minutes With Scott G. Kipp

By Ethernet Alliance

In October 2011, the Ethernet Alliance named Scott G. Kipp, Senior Technologist at Brocade Communications Systems, as its new President, succeeding outgoing President, Jim Theodoras, of ADVA Optical Networking. With solid successes in the development of next-generation Ethernet technology development and an acclaimed author, Scott is ideally suited to the challenge of leading the industry’s premier Ethernet advocate.

Q: Who is Scott G. Kipp?

A: I’m pleased to be able to say that I’m the new president of the Ethernet Alliance, as well as a Senior Technologist at Brocade, where I specialize in high-speed fiber optic technology. My manager likes to call me the “Laser Guy”. I’m an active participant in a wide range of physical layer standards, such as IEEE, ANSI, OIF, MSAs, and the IETF. I am a published author of multiple books, standards, and manuscripts focusing on broadband and fiber optic technologies.

Q: So why Ethernet? What makes it such a critical technology in today’s modern communications web?

A: Ethernet is the networking technology for the ages – it’s everywhere. For more than thirty years, it has served as a foundational networking technology for over a billion computers around the world. It’s a ubiquitous, standard for local area networks, and as emerging applications push the innovation boundary, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t leverage Ethernet somewhere along the line. It’s truly the network technology of choice.

Q: What do you feel are some of the most notable Ethernet achievements?

A: The Internet is probably Ethernet’s most obvious triumph – every server that delivers content to the Internet is networked via Ethernet. With Ethernet’s continued evolution, society is now moving into a new level of interconnectedness that’s built solidly upon the Ethernet ecosystem. Think about some of the most disruptive applications that have become a permanent part of today’s technology mosaic – Facebook, Twitter, Skype – those technologies are served up via Ethernet.

Q: What’s next, then? Where does the future of Ethernet lie?

A: It has such a huge future that it’s hard to express the full scope of where Ethernet will be in 20, 10, or even just five years. The Visual Networking Index predicts that in 2015, we’ll see about a Zettabyte of information running across the Internet – that’s about a billion terabytes.  The networking world is entering the ZB era – the storage world is already there according to the Digital Universe Study. 

I have trouble imagining networks and numbers of this scale, but consider if a million people are streaming high definition movies to televisions with over-the-top video services like Netflix at 5 Mbps, then that’s 5 Terabits/second right there. The insatiable bandwidth demands from consumers is what is driving the Internet’s growth today and will do so for at least a few more years. We’re going to need more links at higher speed and we’re expecting 400 Gigabit Ethernet or Terabit Ethernet to be the next speed or speeds. Parallel optics will be stepping stones to tomorrow’s generation of Ethernet speeds.

Q: Are you excited about your new position as Ethernet Alliance President?

A: Extremely. Jim Theodoras left me some very big shoes to fill, however, I’m thrilled that the Board of Directors asked me to take on the leadership of such a vibrant, dynamic organization. I’m looking forward to continuing the outstanding work already begun.

Q: What will your top priorities be in your new role?

A: I think one of the most important tasks set before us is to help educate the Ethernet industry about the diverse array of technologies that are in development, and the new applications – and in turn, new opportunities – they will enable. One of the first initiatives we’ll be undertaking is the launch of our new “University of Ethernet” webinar series. It’s a truly end-to-end program offering in-depth, practical learning opportunities, beginning with foundational Ethernet technologies and stretching out to next-generation applications, like parallel optics, terabit Ethernet, and beyond.

Q: So tell the truth: Ethernet is your life, right?

A: That makes me sound a little nerdy, don’t you think? But yes, I truly believe in the promise that Ethernet offers to business, industry, consumers, and the world at large. I do have a life outside of Ethernet though.  A couple of years ago, my wife and I sold our house, bought an RV and began traveling around the U.S. full time.  Most of the fellow RVers we met were retirees, but I was working full-time in the RV’s second bedroom. We wintered in New Orleans the year the Saints won the Super Bowl and I went to my first Mardi Gras; now we’re in sunny California.

What’s amazing is that I probably couldn’t have done this five years ago because the technology wasn’t there. Now, with cloud applications like my email, Skype, and webmeetings, I connect with my colleagues over the Internet. All of this is dependent on Ethernet; if I didn’t have Ethernet, I simply couldn’t live the life that I do.

 The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the individual(s) and should not be considered the views or positions of the Ethernet Alliance.

Share