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Startup Teams With Sun On Enhanced 10G Ethernet

S2io Inc. said last week it is working with Sun Microsystems Inc. to design the startup's next-generation 10-Gigabit Ethernet adapter. It marks S2io's first data center interconnect to use TCP offload and remote direct memory access (RDMA) technology.

Sun's quick move into support for enhanced Ethernet chips and boards, called R-NICs, raises questions about the relative roles of Infiniband and Ethernet as system-to-system interconnects in the data center. Sun has long backed the Infiniband interconnect.

Sun is working with both S2io and Intel Corp. on a new TCP/IP stack for its next-generation operating system, Solaris X, said Sunay Tripathi, chief architect for FireEngine, the company's new Ethernet stack. The software will let network adapters handle TCP termination and RDMA functions, speeding network traffic and easing work loads on processors that are mainly in two- and four-way X86-based servers.

Sun is working with the two chip makers to ensure their accelerators will hand over TCP processing to the Solaris kernel if the chips become swamped, avoiding system hangups. Once the trio sorts out issues of the accelerator/kernel interface, Sun plans to open up Solaris X to any chip or board maker with TCP offload and RDMA functions.

"Customers have told us they don't want to deal with flaky hardware that could mean the system stops working. So this is what we have to do before we can ship," said Tripathi.

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