Intel Networking: XL710 Fortville 40 Gigabit Ethernet and VXLAN Acceleration

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: xeon e5-2600 v3, xeon e5, Intel

So, to coincide with their E5-2600 v3 launch, Intel is discussing virtualized LANs and new, high-speed PCIe-based, networking adapters. Xeons are typically used in servers and their networking add-in boards will often shame what you see on a consumer machine. One of these boards supports up to two 40GbE connections, configurable to four 10GbE, for all the bandwidth.

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The Intel XL710 is their new network controller, which I am told is being manufactured at 28nm. It is supposedly more power efficient, as well. In their example, a previous dual 10-gigabit controller will consume 5.2W of power while a single 40-gigabit will consume 3.3W. In terms of a network adapter, that is a significant reduction, which is very important in a data center due to the number of machines and the required air conditioning.

As for the virtualized networking part of the announcement, Intel is heavily promoting Software-defined networking (SDN). Intel mentioned two techniques to help increase usable bandwidth and decrease CPU utilization, which is important at 40 gigabits.

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The first is "generic segmentation offload" for VXLAN (VXLAN GSO) that allows the host of any given connection to chunk data more efficiently to send out over a virtual network.

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The second is TCP L4 Receive Side Scaling (RSS), which splits traffic between multiple receive queues (and can be managed by multiple CPU threads). I am not a network admin and I will not claim to know how existing platforms manage traffic at this level. Still, Intel seems to claim that this NIC and CPU platform will result in higher effective bandwidth and better multi-core CPU utilization (that I expect will lead to lower power consumption).

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If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.

Source: Intel

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September 8, 2014 | 12:46 PM - Posted by Paul Thomsen

Any price or availability details? And we'd presumably need new hubs/switches/routers...

September 9, 2014 | 03:17 AM - Posted by Prodeous

I wish 10Gbit would become part of the home architecture. 1Gbit has been way too stagnant. Holding back the performance of any NAS with SSD's to only 125MB/s (theoretical maximum) ..

With 10Gbit at home, we could really enjoy NAS storage like local storage with over 1GB/s of bandwidth.

So Intel, keep pushing 40Gbit and faster copper, so that lower speeds would find their way into the next motherboards.

September 9, 2014 | 11:41 AM - Posted by Luthair

My thinking also, the consumer market has been stagnant on gigabit for ages now.

September 15, 2014 | 05:12 PM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

Heck even if the consumer market only gets 10GBe I'd be thrilled. We've waited so long that jumping straight to 40GBe would be nice too.

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