NVIDIA Acquires Mellanox: Beyond the Numbers

Subject: Editorial | March 12, 2019 - 10:14 PM |
Tagged: nvswitch, nvlink, nvidia, Mellanox, Intel, Infiniband, Ethernet, communications, chiplets, amd

In a bit of a surprise this past weekend NVIDIA announced that it is purchasing the networking company Mellanox for approximately $6.9 billion US. NVIDIA and Intel were engaged in a bidding war for the Israel based company. At first glance we do not see the synergies that could potentially come from such an acquisition, but in digging deeper it makes much more sense. This is still a risky move for NVIDIA as their previous history of acquisitions have not been very favorable for the company (Ageia, Icera, etc.).

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Mellanox’s portfolio centers around datacenter connectivity solutions such as high speed ethernet and InfiniBand products. They are already a successful company that has products shipping out the door. If there is a super computer somewhere, chances are it is running Mallanox technology for high speed interconnects. This is where things get interesting for NVIDIA.

While NVIDIA focuses on GPUS they are spreading into the datacenter at a pretty tremendous rate. Their NVLink implementation allows high speed connectivity between GPUS and recently they showed off their NVSwitch which features 18 ports. We do not know how long it took to design the NVSwitch and get it running at a high level, but NVIDIA is aiming for implementations that will exceed that technology. NVIDIA had the choice to continue in-house designs or to purchase a company already well versed in such work with access to advanced networking technology.

Intel was also in play for Mellanox, but that particular transaction might not have been approved by anti-trust authorities around the world. If Intel had made an aggressive bid for Mellanox it would have essentially consolidated the market for these high end networking products. In the end NVIDIA offered the $6.9B US for the company and it was accepted. Because NVIDIA has no real networking solutions that are on the market it will likely be approved without issue. Unlike other purchases like Icera, Mellanox is actively shipping product and will add to the bottom line at NVIDIA.

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The company was able to purchase Mellanox in a cash transaction. They simply dove into their cash reserves instead of offering Mellanox shareholders equal shares in NVIDIA. This $6.9B is above what AMD paid for ATI back in 2006 ($5.4B). There may be some similarities here in that the price for Mellanox could be overvalued compared to what they actually bring to the table and we will see write downs over the next several years, much as AMD did for the ATI purchase.

The purchase will bring them instant expertise with high performance standards like InfiniBand. It will also help to have design teams versed in high speed, large node networking apply their knowledge to the GPU field and create solutions better suited for the technology. They will also continue to sell current Mellanox products.

Another purchase in the past that looks somewhat similar to this is AMD’s acquisition of SeaMicro. That company was selling products based on their Freedom Fabric technology to create ultra-dense servers utilizing dozens of CPUs. This line of products was discontinued by AMD after poor sales, but they expanded upon Freedom Fabric and created the Infinity Fabric that powers their latest Zen CPUs.

I can see a very similar situation occurring at NVIDIA. AMD is using their Infinity Fabric to connect multiple chiplets on a substrate, as well as utilizing that fabric off of the substrate. It also has integrated that fabric into their latest Vega GPUs. This philosophy looks to pay significant dividends for AMD once they introduce their 7nm CPUs in the form of Zen 2 and EPYC 2. AMD is not relying on large, monolithic dies for both their consumer and enterprise parts, thereby improving yields and bins on these parts as compared to what Intel does with current Xeon parts.

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When looking at the Mellanox purchase from this view, it makes a lot of sense for NVIDIA. With process node advances moving at a much slower pace, the demand for higher performance solutions is only increasing. To meet this demand NVIDIA will be required to make efficient, multi-chip solutions that may require more performance and features than what can be covered by NVLINK. Mellanox could potentially provide the expertise and experience to help NVIDIA achieve such scale.

Source: NVIDIA

Rivet Networks Launches the Killer E3000 2.5Gbps Gaming Ethernet Controller

Subject: Networking | January 8, 2019 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: Rivet Networks, rivet, NiC, networking, killer e3000, killer, Ethernet, ces2019

Rivet Networks, maker of the Killer line of gaming-focused networking products, has announced the Killer E3000, a 2.5Gbps Ethernet controller that Rivet is calling the “world’s first” such product designed for gaming.

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The Killer E3000, launching today in select Dell-Alienware and Acer gaming laptops, features the same kind of gaming-prioritized traffic management found on Killer’s other products, but breaks the longstanding gigabit barrier to make the jump to 2.5Gbps.

Why 2.5Gbps? First, the increasing ubiquity of greater-than-gigabit networking technology for businesses and prosumers means that more and more routers and switches are supporting the faster speeds. Increases in WiFi performance, such as those introduced in the upcoming “WiFi 6” standard (a.k.a. 802.11ax), also means that wireless devices will be able to achieve real-world speeds in excess of 1Gbps in many cases, making the once-state-of-the-art wired gigabit Ethernet connection the new bottleneck.

One solution to impending limitations of gigabit Ethernet, including one we’ve pursued here at PC Perspective, is to adopt 10Gbps. And while prices for 10Gbps-capable equipment have fallen significantly in recent years, it’s still quite expensive, both for manufacturers and end users, compared to traditional gigabit options.

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2.5Gbps, however, can keep up with the forthcoming faster WiFi speeds, provide a boost in performance that is noticeable to many users, and is compatible with ubiquitous Cat5e networking cables, all for a cost that is about the same as a standard gigabit NIC.

Killer Control Center 2.0

On the software side of things, Rivet is also announcing an update to Killer Control Center, the company’s software utility that allows users to monitor their network traffic and configure prioritization profiles for certain games and applications. New features in Killer Control Center 2.0 include:

  • Killer GameFast Technology: this new feature in Killer Control Center 2.0 can automatically pause processes that are not needed when gaming. The software detects when a game is launched and pauses Windows and other application services that aren’t essential to system operation, unpausing them once the game is closed. Rivet says that this can free up to 10 percent of your CPU cycles and 20 percent of memory, helping to ensure that as much of your PC’s performance as possible is available to your games. Users can of course customize the list of paused processes so that an important app or background task isn’t affected.
  • Killer Intelligence Engine: this feature scans your current network settings and status and can automatically change network settings — bandwidth limits for certain devices, reprioritizing download vs. streaming traffic, etc. — for optimal performance. And if it can’t automatically fix a problem, such as intermittent wireless connectivity, it can explain the problem to the user and recommend potential solutions.

The Killer E3000 is initially launching in select Alienware and Acer gaming laptops, and will soon be available in additional laptop models as well as high-end gaming motherboards.

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Overview

To say that the consumer wired networking market has stagnated has been an understatement. While we've seen generational improvements on NICs from companies like Intel, and companies like Rivet trying to add their own unique spin on things with their Killer products, the basic idea has remained mostly unchanged.

And for its time, Gigabit networking was an amazing thing. In the era of hard drive-based storage as your only option, 100 MB/s seemed like a great data transfer speed for your home network — who could want more?

Now that we've moved well into the era of flash-based storage technologies capable of upwards of 3 GB/s transfer speeds, and even high capacity hard drives hitting the 200 MB/s category, Gigabit networking is a frustrating bottleneck when trying to move files from PC to PC.

For the enterprise market, there has been a solution to this for a long time. 10 Gigabit networking has been available in enterprise equipment for over 10 years, and even old news with even faster specifications like 40 and 100 Gbps interfaces available.

So why then are consumers mostly stuck at 1Gbps? As is the case with most enterprise technologies, the cost for 10 Gigabit equipment is still at a high premium compared to it's slower sibling. In fact, we've only just started to see enterprise-level 10 Gigabit NICs integrated on consumer motherboards, like the ASUS X99-E 10G WS at a staggering $650 price point.

However, there is hope. Companies like Aquantia are starting to aggressively push down the price point of 10 Gigabit networking, which brings us to the product we are taking a look at today — the ASUS XG-C100C 10 Gigabit Network Adapter.

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Continue reading about the ASUS XG-C100C 10GigE add-in card!

Computex 2017: Killer xTend Turns a PC into a Switch and Wi-Fi Extender

Subject: Networking | May 30, 2017 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: wireless, wifi extender, wi-fi, Rivet Networks, network, msi, lan, Killer xTend, Killer Networking, gigabyte, Ethernet, computex 2017, computex

Rivet Networks has a new Killer Networking product, but it isn't a line of NICs or Wireless adapters; it's actually a combination of both interfaces (including a minimum of three Gigabit Ethernet ports) that combine to turn your PC into switch and a Wi-Fi extender. They call the new product Killer xTend, and Rivet Networks has partnered with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new technology to market.

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"Killer xTend delivers powerful network extension capabilities to your computer by integrating a network switch that includes at least three Killer Ethernet ports and using a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows your computer to share its network access with other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection.

Consumers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure. Instead, they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones and tablets directly to their gaming PCs. Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing speeds – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

The first motherboard launching with Killer xTend is the MSI Z270 GODLIKE GAMING, with three Killer E2500 NICs and a Killer Wireless-AC 1535 module onboard.

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"...the new GODLIKE adapts the Killer™ xTend technology as well and delivers powerful network extension capabilities by integrating a network switch that includes 3 Killer Ethernet ports and a Killer Wireless-AC module as a Wi-Fi extender. This allows the GODLIKE GAMING to provide the network access to other nearby wired and wireless devices with a strong, powerful network connection. Gamers no longer need to mess with switches and network extenders that are expensive and difficult to configure – instead they can use Killer’s innovative new xTend Technology to connect devices such as gaming consoles, smart phones, and tablets directly to your gaming PC. The Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing throughput to your home – with potential throughput up to 1 Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867 Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module."

GIGABYTE's AORUS Gaming Series will include Killer xTend, though no specific models were mentioned in the press release from Rivet Networks.

Full press release after the break.

Rivet Networks Announces Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet Controller

Subject: Networking | September 15, 2016 - 04:42 PM |
Tagged: Rivet Networks, NiC, networking, Killer Networking, Killer E2500, Ethernet, controller

Rivet Networks have announced the new Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet controller, and they are partnering with MSI and GIGABYTE to bring the new controller to consumer gaming motherboards.

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“The Killer E2500 delivers powerful networking technology to gamers and performance users, including significant new enhancements to its Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology and the all new Killer Control Center. In addition to detecting and optimally prioritizing your games, video, and voice applications with Advanced Stream Detect 2.0 Technology, the Killer E2500 also detects and manages 500+ of the top global websites.”

The networking performance is said to be improved considerably with the new controller and software, with "Lag and Latency Reduction Technology":

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“Through its patented technology, Killer is able to get network packets to your applications and web browsers up to 25% faster than the competition during single application usage, and potentially by more than 10x faster when multitasking.”

As I quickly realized when reviewing the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 last year, the software is just as important as the hardware with a Killer adapter. For the new E2500, the Killer Control Center has been re-designed, to provide “users full control of all aspects of their system’s networking performance”.

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Rivet Networks describes the functionality of this Killer Control Center software, which allows users to control:

  • The priority of each application and popular website
  • The bandwidth used by each application and popular website
  • The Killer interface that each application is going over
  • The total bandwidth being used by system

I found that enabling the Killer Software bandwidth management to significantly affect latency when gaming (which you can see here, again revisiting the AC 1535 review), and Rivet Networks is confident that this new system will offer even better performance. We’ll know exactly how this new controller and software performs once we have one of the new motherboards featuring this E2500 controller onboard.

Qualcomm Atheros Launches Two New Killer Networking Cards

Subject: Networking | April 18, 2012 - 10:33 PM |
Tagged: wi-fi, qualcomm, networking, killer, Ethernet

Qualcomm Atheros today launched two new networking cards for the desktop and laptop markets. A subsidiary company of Qualcomm (formerly Killer Networks), the Wireless-N 1202 and E2200 provides Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity based on Killer Networks’ technology.

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The Wireless-N 1202 is a 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module with 2x2 MIMO antennas which should provide plenty of Wireless N range. On the wired side of things the E2200 is a Gigabit Ethernet network card for desktop computers. Both modules are powered by Killer Network’s chip and the Killer Network Manager software. The software will allow users to prioritize gaming, audio, and video packets over other network traffic to deliver the best performance. Director of Business Development Mike Cubbage had the following to say.

“These products create an unprecedented entertainment and real-time communications experience for the end user by ensuring that critical online applications get the bandwidth and priority they need, when they need it.”

The E2200 Gigabit Ethernet NIC is available for purchase now, and the Wireless-N 1202 module will go on sale in May. More specific information on the products will be available after the official launch date (today) so stay tuned to PC Perspective.

IEEE seeks to increase Ethernet bandwidth, but to what?

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 08:31 PM |
Tagged: IEEE, Ethernet

IEEE is a professional association known for creating technology standards, producing publications, and hosting activities both for educational and professional development. If you are browsing this website on a high speed connection you are almost definitely using IEEE 802.3 or IEEE 802.11 which are more commonly known as Ethernet and WIFI, respectively. IEEE constantly evolves their standards: speeds get faster, WIFI-n allowed you to leave 2.4 GHz, and other changes as needs progress over time.

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Change for the future.

IEEE recently appointed John D’Ambrosia to chair a group to determine how much demand will be required from Ethernet in the future. This committee could potentially end up producing a standard for Terabit network connections should demand deem it necessary.

The committee is being very cautious this time around with respect to how much speed is required for their next standard. The prior standard, 802.3ab, was discussed in 2005 and determined that 100 Gbps was a necessary advancement. Later it was discovered that many vendors did not require more than 40 Gbps and would delay adoption for several years. Regardless of whether they settle on Terabit or 400 Gigabit, this standard will take years to develop with Terabit taking even longer. Their findings about demand will be published early next year.

Source: IT World