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Maximize Performance with Intel® 10 Gigabit Ethernet SolutionsThe growing demand for 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Today’s data centers are being pushed to their limits. For the past decade, IT has rapidly deployed low-cost hardware to accommodate business growth. But with data centers now stretched to capacity in terms of power, cooling, and floor space, IT needs to refresh existing infrastructure with servers that deliver more performance and scalability, more efficiently. The latest Intel® Xeon® 5500 processors provide a foundation for IT management to refresh existing or design new data centers to achieve greater performance while using less energy and space, while dramatically reducing operating costs.

In addition to advances in these next generation multi-core servers, the drive to 10 Gigabit Ethernet comes from other information technologies including virtualized environments, advances in storage architectures, server clustering, and consolidation, new forms of information delivery using the Internet, and the next wave of digital and social media content. Associated with these technological advances is the evolution in networking itself that is making 10 Gigabit Ethernet affordable across the network from the core to the edge.

At the heart of tomorrow’s network infrastructure, 10 Gigabit Ethernet is the core of any next generation data center. Data centers are demanding flexible and scalable I/O solutions to meet the rigorous requirements of running mission-critical applications in virtualized and unified storage environments. With the latest server platform, customers can now realize the full potential of 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking and realize up to 2.5 times the bandwidth supported by earlier generation platforms.

In combination with the latest generation of server platforms, customers will need additional server building blocks that compliment the platform to achieve a scalable infrastructure for the next generation data center. These components include:

  • A flexible network that is optimized for performance with virtualized servers and has the capability to support and prioritize multiple types of traffic.
  • A unified network to combine storage and network traffic onto a single 10 Gigabit Ethernet fabric, which brings management simplicity and greater workload migration flexibility to IT.
  • Easily configurable, industry-leading performance, and reliability across all operating systems.

Optimized for virtualization

The growing adoption of virtualization in the datacenter enables a more efficient use of server resources that have historically left compute power underutilized with the model of running a single application on a physical server. With server performance scaling by a factor of ten in the last decade, the opportunity to consolidate multiple applications on one server utilizing virtualized resource management has created a more cost-effective alternative for data center deployments.

Server virtualization is helping IT organizations improve data center productivity in fundamental ways. It allows the consolidation of multiple operating systems and applications per physical server, reducing the size and costs of your IT infrastructure, while enabling the deployment of new applications in minutes. Virtualization also lets administrators move running applications from one server to another without downtime, for flexible workload management and high availability during planned maintenance or unplanned events. Investment in virtualization solutions is an intelligent business decision: the benefits in utilization, energy savings, manageability, service levels, and cost models can be dramatic.

Today’s virtualization-enabled datacenter solutions also enable flexible allocation of resources to handle unexpected changes in required workloads. With these tools, many IT organizations have lowered both capital and operational costs associated with server hardware, while simultaneously improving datacenter agility. The rapid adoption of virtualization-enabled servers has also created a major increase in I/O overhead affecting the overall server performance. Hence, a balanced platform approach that addresses virtualization enhancements with hardware assists even at the I/O and networking device level is essential.

The explosive growth in virtualization is leading to an increasing demand for network performance. With more virtual machines (VMs) running on each multi-core server, networking traffic is dramatically increased with each VM competing for available I/O bandwidth.

The benefits of server virtualization and consolidation are clear: combining multiple servers in a single physical server lowers energy requirements and makes use of processing power that would have gone unused in a single-application server.

Unified networking

The fast growth in storage capacity coupled with server virtualization has brought the need for the storage area network to the forefront, and technologies such as iSCSI and Fibre Channel are leading the charge for storage over Ethernet. In addition, a new storage paradigm, referred to as “unified storage,” which would include Fibre Channel and other storage technologies over Ethernet, is emerging.

Limited bandwidth and TCP processing overhead are two of the key factors that have limited the adoption of iSCSI. However, today’s Intel® multi-core processor-based platforms have more than enough power to handle these workloads, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet network bandwidth provides the throughput that has been lacking. Additionally, advances in Ethernet QoS features such as priority groups and per priority pause provide the guaranteed delivery required by Fibre Channel storage solutions.

The new Intel® Ethernet family of X520 server adapters based upon the Intel® 82599 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller includes support for iSCSI acceleration and advanced features for unified networking. The controller enables fast and reliable networked storage with native iSCSI support with Microsoft*, Linux*, and VMware* operating systems as well as support for Intel® iSCSI Remote Boot. Priority groups and per priority pause support are also implemented in the controller.

Optimized to maximize performance

The growth in 10 Gigabit Ethernet will enable greater deployments of virtualized servers and unified networks, providing unparalleled throughput. These performance improvements come at a cost, however, as servers will be forced to handle more network data than ever before.

Intel has addressed the rise in virtualization demand by creating Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT), a suite of powerful enhancements to Intel® processors, chipsets, and I/O devices enabling hardware-assisted virtualization support from the core platform architecture. The hardware assists that Intel® VT provides to the virtualization software helps hypervisor providers to deliver more simple and robust code, decreasing software overhead, and its potential impact to solution performance.

Intel’s latest addition to its suite of virtualization technologies is Intel® Virtualization Technology (Intel® VT) for Connectivity (Intel® VT-c). This new collection of I/O virtualization technologies improves overall system performance by improving communication between host CPU and I/O devices within the virtual server.

Intel® VT-c provides I/O technologies that optimize virtualized performance:

  • Enhanced data acceleration across the Intel multi-core processors platforms
  • Improved data processing performance across multiple queues on the network controller
  • Direct VM connectivity and data protection between the VMs

Server consolidation using virtual machines (VMs) on fewer physical servers lowers data center capital and operating costs. Larger workloads also take advantage of dramatic performance improvements from the latest Intel multi-core processors.

Optimized for virtualized environments and storage over Ethernet, the Intel® 82599 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller and Intel’s family of X520 adapters provides the throughput and traffic processing optimizations for the next generation of data centers.

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