Solarflare Communications has announced a new family of 10 Gigabit controllers, including the industry's first 10GBASE-T LAN-on-motherboard (LOM) product. The new product family includes the Solarstorm SFL9021 single-port LOM, Solarstorm SFL9022 dual-port LOM and the Solarstorm SFC9020 dual-port controller.
Solarflare's new controllers will offer a number of key features to server and network adapter vendors. The SFC900 family offers a virtualized architecture, enabling the chipset to break into as many network interfaces as needed for running multiple virtual machines on a single physical server. To ensure sufficient bandwidth for these applications, the controller also offers offload capabilities, taking some stress off of CPU cycles. And finally, Solarflare also claims their solutions will offer 10GbE at half of the power consumption of competing offerings, while still maintain compatibility with Gigabit Ethernet connections.
Power has been a sticking point with 10GbE, for not only for actual power usage, but additional cooling requirements that extra wattage requires. As Steven J Schuchart, principal analyst for Data Center at Current Analysis, notes, "Solarflare's new LOM 10 Gigabit Ethernet controllers show considerable faith in the not only the evolution of 10 Gigabit Ethernet but in 10gbase-T copper. Adoption of 10GBase-T on the switch side is still problematic due to power consumption issues even though Solarflare has acceptably solved it on the server side. Solarflare's new chips will enable server hardware vendors to offer 10 Gigabit Ethernet, which will accelerate the already increasing adoption of 10 Gigabit Ethernet."
The controllers will likely find their way to the marketplace first on board add-on network adapters, whereas the LOM chips will have to wait for inclusion in the next server refresh cycle from the various vendors. Broader adoption of 10GBase-T at the server level is somewhat of a chicken and egg dilemma, needing both servers and switches to be available for enterprises to step up acceptance. Solarflare's new family of controllers should help move the standard down to that level.