When you're the largest chip maker in the universe, you can afford to toss money at companies big and small, even if their primary business is to design Ethernet switch silicon for data center network providers. That describes Fulcrum Micrososystems Inc., a privately held fabless semiconductor company that will become Intel's latest acquisition. The question is, what does Intel want with Fulcrum?
Wires. Cords. Cables. Coils. Lines. Connectors. Whatever you call 'em, you've probably got plenty of them running between various pieces of beloved hardware. In this wired, wired world of ours, we rely on various cables and connectors to get our technology working in sync, to provide us with internet, with data, with everything from a picture on a display to power. But how many of us really know what's going on in those twisted strands?
To that end, we present to you three common connection technologies - explained, unveiled, and detailed so that you're well versed with the inner workings of your interfaces.
Read on to get the goods on HDBaseT, USB 3.0 and Light Peak!
Enabling jumbo frames can significantly increase your network’s throughput while consuming fewer CPU cycles (we’ll explain why in a moment). But before you configure your PCs to use jumbo frames, you should know that their value lies primarily in speeding up large file transfers within your network (versus to and from the Internet).
You should also be aware that enabling jumbo frames might cause problems with latency sensitive network applications, such as VoIP and online games. Lastly, jumbo frames are available only on gigabit networks, and every device in the path of the file transfer—all your switches (starting with the one in the router), your PC, server, and/or NAS—must all be equipped with gigabit Ethernet interfaces. What’s more, each of those devices must be capable of passing the same size jumbo frames. Okay, here’s another twist: There is no such thing as a standard-size jumbo frame.
Confused? Click the "Read More" button for an Ethernet primer.
In what will eventually result in higher speed Ethernet server connectivity and core switching products, the IEEE finally ratified the IEEE 802.3ba standard late last week.
"We made changes up until March," said John D'Ambrosia, chair of the IEEE 802.3ba Task Force. "[Compliance] is up to those [vendors] and where their products were up to that point."
D'Ambrosia's referring to the fact that some vendors, like Cisco, have already been trialing 100G Ethernet products for months. According to D'Ambrosia, these vendors are "taking a risk."
In addition to addressing increasing bandwidth needs, the 802.3ba standard is also expected to push the adoption of 10G Ethernet. Pricing, however, could be a sticking point, with some companies charging $1,000 per port for 40G Ethernet switching modules.
Enterprise networking specialist Force10 Networks on Wednesday announced what it claims is the industry's first switch purpose-built for dynamic virtualized datacenter environments.
The new 1RU S60 comes equipped with 48 wire-speed Gigabit Ethernet ports (44 10/100/1000 Base TX and four SFP) and up to four 10 Gigabit Ethernet uplinks for hooking up with core switches, or for stacking.
Other features include support for packet buffer of 1.25GB, an auto-configuration feature to simplify switch provisioning, and the ability to stack up to 12 S60s to be managed as a single logical switch.
The S60 starts at $10,595 and will be available by the end of the month.
You can't get through a discussion about next-generation TV sets without bringing up the topic of 3D, but maybe we have it all wrong. Perhaps we should be talking about Internet-connected TVs instead. Quite frankly, we're a little surprised this hasn't been given more attention already. Nevertheless, ABI Research predicts that by 2013, some 46 percent of flat panel TVs will come with an Ethernet port, up from only 19 percent today.
"New features will include media guides/browsing, Web browsing, and more tightly integrated social and information-based datasets," said industry analyst Michael Inouye.
Internet-connected TVs will also open the door for new ways to advertise and cross-market products.
"TV makers no longer want to build 'dumb screens,'" says Inouye. "Rather than simply selling boxes, TV makers themselves could try to secure part of the revenue generated by ads their devices present."
Oh, Cisco. What a tease you are! The company's been pumping up the general Internet crowd for a game-changing announcement, one that would--and I quote--"forever change the Internet." I was honestly hoping that said unveiled device would be like, a super-crazy consumer router that would... well. I'm not really sure what it would do. Gigabit speeds are more than sufficient for anyone's home networking needs right now (when I'm looking for this column on a terabit connection in five years, I'll have a hearty laugh.) And it's not like we have a new wireless draft on the way any time soon.
It would have been nice and revolutionary for Cisco to embrace--you guessed it--a more open-source platform for its hardware devices. One, it's what I write about and, two, we're kind of in a hardware lull, don't you think? When it comes to consumer routing and switching devices, there's only so much one can do. Aside from adding on new antennas, shifting antennas around in new ways, or adding more ports to the back of a device, what's really propelling router technology forward nowadays?
Intel this week launched what it claims is a first of its kind -- a 10GBase-T server adapter (X520-T2) to support SR-IOV for advanced network virtualization.
According to Intel, the adapter's energy efficient design makes it possible to support two 10GbE ports, allowing one port to provide redundancy and take over should the other port fail. The other advantage to running two ports is the ability to combine them "into one bigger virtual pipe, providing 20GbE of networking bandwidth."
The 10GBase-T adapter is based on the Intel 82599 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller and boasts support for connectivity over distances of up to 100 meters, Intel says. And giving it added flexibility, the X520-T2 ships in a low-profile PCI-E form factor.
There's a war brewing behind the scenes, one which involves Cisco, HP, and other major players. What are they fighting over? Control of data centers. But despite this battle, those same companies are working together to try and push through new Ethernet standards.
The reason for this is because those standards could make life a lot easier for all involved, especially when it comes to managing virtualized IT data centers. These types of issues are exactly what the IEEE 802.1Qbg and 802.1Qbh specifications are designed to overcome. Put simply, these standards would greatly ease the burden of policy, security, and management processing from virtual switches on NICs and blade servers, putting them back onto physical Ethernet switches.
"There needed to be a way to communicate between the hypervisor and the network," says Jon Oltsik, an analyst at Enterprise Systems Group. "When you start thinking about the complexities associated with running dozens of VMs on a physical server the sophistication of data center switching has to be there."
The downside to this is that by adding this element to the hypervisor, there would be a drastic rise in the amount of network processing overhead to the server, Oltisk warns.
Network specialist Nortel announced on Monday that it has been selected as the high bidder in the auction of nearly all of the optical networking and carrier Ethernet assets of Nortel's Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) business. Under terms of the deal, Ciena will pay $530 million in cash and issue $239 million in aggregate principal amount of 6 percent Senior Convertible notes due in 2017. All tallied, the deal is worth $769 million.
"These optical and carrier Ethernet assets bring exceptional technologies, talent and scale that will accelerate Ciena’s current strategy to deliver innovative network solutions to customers worldwide," said Gary Smith, Ciena’s CEO and president. "With this combination, we are bringing together complementary technologies in switching and transport to create an innovative powerhouse with the scale to challenge the industry status quo and offer customers a practical path for transitioning to automated, optical Ethernet-based networking."
Ciena has high hopes for its latest acquisition, and not without merit. In 2008, Nortel generated about $1.36 billion in revenue, and $556 million (unaudited) in the first half of 2009.
At least 2,000 Nortel employees will be offered employment to become part of Ciena's global team of network specialists, the company said.