10 Gbit Ethernet, the super I/O pipe for virtual servers? (WMWorld 2008)by Johan De Gelas on March 1, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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10 Gbit Ethernet just got even more attractive. You might remember from our last storage article that we have high hopes for iSCSI as a high performance but a very cost effective shared storage solution for SME's. Our hopes were based on getting 10 Gbit (10 GBase-T) on UTP Cat 6 (or even CAT5e) but unfortunately the only switch that I could find (thanks Renée!) that supports 10 Gbit this way was the SMC TigerSwitch 10G. With pricing at $1000 per port, not really a budget friendly offering.
Still, 10 Gbit Ethernet is an incredibly interesting solution for a virtualized server or an iSCSI storage array that is serving data to a lot of (virtualized or not) servers.
So maybe it is best to give optic cabling another look. Some of the 10 Gbit Ethernet NICs are getting quite cheap these days, but an enthousiastic Ravi Chalaka, Vice President of Neterion told us that it might be wise to invest a bit more in NICs with IOV (I/O virtualization) support. According to Neterion, the newest Neterion X3100 Series is the first adapter to support the new industry-standard, SR-IOV 1.0 (Single-Root /O Virtualization.) SR-IOV is a PCI-SIG workgroup extension to PCIe. One of the features of such a NIC is that is has multiple channels that can accept multiple requests of virtualized servers, which significantly reduces the latency and overhead of multiple servers sharing the same network I/O. Even more important is that the Neterion X3100 is natively supported in VMWare ESX 3.5.
We will test the Neterion X3100 in the coming months. It seems like a very promising product as Neterion claims :
- 7 times more bandwidth
- 50% less latency
- 40 % less TCP overhead
Than a comparable 1 Gbit solution. So while many of us are probably quite pleased with the bandwidth of 2 GBit (2x 1 Gbit MPIO), especially 50% lower latency sounds great for iSCSI. Fibre Channel, which is moving towards 8 GBit, might just have lost another advantage...