Enterprises of tomorrow are going to need a whole lot more network bandwidth than they do today, and startup S2io Technologies Corp. is banking on providing the interface cards.
Right now only S2io, fellow startup Chelsio Communications Inc., and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) are making the 10-Gigabit Ethernet adapters, but how long the startups can hold their own remains to be seen. In S2io's case, it has some recent momentum including a reseller deal with Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) (NYSE: SGI) and an impressive $42 million third round of venture capital funding, and yesterday the company announced software drivers for Sun Microsystems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: SUNW) forthcoming Solaris 10 operating system.
The company was founded on the premise that there's going to be "a discontinuity in the data center," with application and user demands on one side, and limited bandwidth supply on the other, according to Dave Zabrowski, president and CEO. The deal with Sun isn't exclusive, but Sun isn't working with anyone else at the moment, he says.
The big difference between 10-Gigabit cards and standard 10, 100, and 1,000BaseT cards is the software challenge. Gigabit speed - 1,000BaseT - is the last speed at which firmware could be on the card itself, Zabrowski says. At the new 10-Gig speeds, the cards require special-purpose hardware in the form of an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC).
"We have designed a very specific technology that's tuned with the server vendors we partner with," Zabrowski says. Intel obviously has those relationships too, but Zabrowski says S2io's advantage is its focus on this technology exclusively.