NetXen Touts New Take on 10-Gig

Startup pushes 'upgradeable' LAN-on-motherboard at server and storage OEMs

August 14, 2008

2 Min Read
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Chip startup NetXen is touting NIC technology, which it claims will breathe new life into the market for 10-Gbit/s Ethernet servers and storage.

The vendors NX3031 LAN On Motherboard (LOM) offerings, launched this week, contain 4-Gbit Ethernet ports, although these can be upgraded to two 10-Gbit/s Ethernet ports by adding a small connector and riser card to the motherboard.

”We have developed a solution that can bridge the Gig and 10-Gig space - this becomes a tremendous vehicle for getting 10-Gig deployed without having to pay for it upfront” says Vikram Karvat, NetXen’s senior director of marketing, explaining that the LOM technology is aimed at server and storage OEMs. “It takes all the burden of cost off the motherboard for doing 10-Gig.”

NetXen unveiled three versions of the NX3031 this week containing different flavors of 10-Gbit/s Ethernet: SFP+, 10GBASE-T, and CX4.

“The most popular one now is SFP+ [because] it supports both optical and cable interfaces,” said Karvat. “At least for the next year or so, SFP+ will carry the flag for 10-Gig.”The exec adds that NetXen has established an “extremely aggressive price point” for its LOM offerings, which will be priced at less than $300 per 10-Gbit/s Ethernet port.

The vendor, which has OEM agreements in place with HP and IBM, respectively, for its 10-Gig Expansion Cards, and its existing dual-port NIC, is already signing up OEM partners for the NX3031.

“The first ones we will see are the server OEMs; the storage OEMs will take a little longer,” explained Karvat, but he would not divulge their identities. “I don’t think that the storage OEMs will be announcing any products built on this until the middle of next year.”

At least one analyst thinks that NetXen is taking a step in the right direction by launching the NX3031.

”The basic idea is that 10-Gig adoption has been disappointingly slow,” says Bob Wheeler, an analyst at the Linley Group, adding that NetXen is shrewd to build a "cost-efficient, upgradeable" NIC. “We haven’t really seen 10-Gig take off on mainstream servers.”Up until now, explains Linley, most of the 10-Gbit/s Ethernet deployments have been on relatively high-end Unix servers, and some vertical-specific blades.

”It’s interesting that the leaders in Gigabit Ethernet are Broadcom and Intel, and neither one offers a four-port chip now, so it’s a unique product,” adds the analyst, but he warns that the startup will still have its work cut out. “The Gigabit Ethernet market is extremely competitive and Broadcom and Intel are very entrenched - it’s not an easy matter to displace entrenched competitors.”

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  • Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • The Linley Group

  • NetXen Inc.

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