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Broadcom Broadens Storage Play

LAS VEGAS -- Networld + Interop -- Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), which has been increasingly using storage to diversify its chip product line, today made a move to try to accelerate the emergence of Ethernet as a storage networking technology.

Here at Networld + Interop, Broadcom launched the first of its new family of Gigabit Ethernet controllers, which it calls NetXtreme II. This time, Broadcom is doing more than dipping its toe into storage. It's putting a TCP/IP offload engine (TOE), an iSCSI host bus adapter (HBA), and remote direct memory access (RDMA) technology onto one chip. Broadcom calls the device a C-NIC, or converged network interface controller.

The controller is a sign of Broadcoms anticipation that Ethernet will make inroads against Fibre Channel in storage networking, especially as a backplane for blade servers.

Broadcom product manager Allen Light says he expects the major OEMs for the existing NetXtreme controllers -- Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) -- to also OEM the new chips in their servers. “Our vision is that this will be part of standard equipment on servers down the road,” he says. Broadcom is sampling the new controller and expects it to ship in the fourth quarter. Pricing will be about the same as its previous Gigabit Ethernet controllers.

The C-NIC eliminates the need for separate processors for a TOE and RDMA. The controller is the result of work Broadcom has been doing with other industry leaders to standardize TCP/IP offloading and RDMA over IP. (See Broadcom, Microsoft Offload TCP, TOE Vendors Flock to Microsoft, Microsoft Announces iSCSI Plans, , and RDMA Over TCP/IP Spec Done.)

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