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NetXen Singles Out 10-Gig

Four-year-old NetXen has introduced a programmable 10-Gbit/s Ethernet chip with support for PCI-Express (PCIe), the follow-on bus to Intel's PCI-X. (See NetXen Unveils Interface Chip.)

Up to now, a range of vendors, including Chelsio, Intel, Neterion, and others, have offered 10-Gbit/s chips, but there have been few solutions in one chip with PCIe integration. "This really opens up a new opportunity for 10-Gbit/s in the backplane of blade servers," says Bob Wheeler, senior analyst for networking silicon at The Linley Group consultancy.

Is there a need for this speed just yet? Yes, need is building. Our Egenera blade server platform is upgrading its backplane to 10 Gbit/s, and other products on the market are doing the same," says Bryan Doerr, CTO of service provider Savvis Communications. (See Savvis Stakes Virtualization Claim.)

However, there's a chance that storage, not blade servers, could drive chips like this.

Let's start at the top. NetXen claims its NetXen Intelligent NICs will speed the adoption of 10-Gbit/s backplanes for blade servers by reducing costs to OEMs. Each PCIe board supports one or two 10-Gbit/s ports; is programmable for features such as security, congestion control, and grid computing; and supports upper-layer protocols in firmware. But most importantly, the vendor says, it costs $600 or less in OEM quantities. Dual ports for each 2.25-by-6-inch board don't add cost, the supplier insists.

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