Intel Networking: XL710 Fortville 40 Gigabit Ethernet and VXLAN Acceleration
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 12:29 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Receive Side Scaling disabled
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.
Generic Segmentation Offload disabled
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).
If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.