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Chelsio's 10-Gbit/s Ethernet Card Speeds TCP

Newcomer Ethernet specialist Chelsio Communications Inc. has introduced a card that can handle 10-Gbit Ethernet traffic at wire speed with 10-microsecond latency.

The PCI-X card, launched at the Grid Today 2004 conference in Philadelphia, is based on a single-engine ASIC dubbed the Terminator, with a TCP offload engine optimized for grid computing and data center applications.

The T110 card handles full TCP offload and can offer full-duplex performance at 10-Gbit/second speeds, the company said. It is designed for fiber short- and long-reach applications with XPak transceiver modules but also can handle coaxial interconnect utilizing Marvell Semiconductors' CX-4 interface.
Chelsio's founders came from SGI's Protocol Engines Inc. subsidiary and were responsible for designing the SGI Origin supercomputer. Consequently, they understand the bottlenecks of using Ethernet framing as a channel-based alternative to interconnects like Infiniband. They also learned about the value of retaining standard Layer 4 protocols such as Transmission Control Protocol.

"You can develop a wonderful alternative technology, but if it doesn't fit the framework of standards, it doesn't gain a critical mass," said chief executive officer Kianoosh Naghshineh.

The team decided to offer a deliverable as a host bus adapter rather than a chip set, since most server and storage OEMs are familiar with HBA. Nevertheless, Chelsio says it has already entertained purchase requests for its Terminator ASIC. Terminator can handle 1 million concurrent TCP sessions, although the card is configured for no more than 64,000, indicating the future scalability of the architecture. Terminator has more than 5 million equivalent gates, implemented in a 0.13-micron process.

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