Dedicated chip handles TCP on new adapter

Chelsio Communications claims to the first vendor to deliver a 10Gbit/sec Ethernet adapter that uses a dedicated processor to handle its TCP (Transport Control Protocol).

Chelsio Communications claims to the first vendor to deliver a 10Gbit/sec Ethernet adapter that uses dedicated silicon to handle its TCP (Transport Control Protocol).

According to the company, the adapter can transmit standard 1500-Byte Ethernet frames in a peer-to-peer configuration at 7.9Gbit/sec throughput with less than 10 microseconds latency from user to user and 50% CPU utilisation with a 2.2GHz Opteron-based server. The line-rate performance of the adapter stays consistent with equal and stable bandwidth per TCP connection, whether there is one or 10,000 connections.

The company says that the best performance other adapters on the market can claim in transferring standard Ethernet frames is only 3 to 4Gbit/sec with higher latency and more than 100% CPU utilisation. This limitation, it adds, has hindered the deployment of the otherwise ubiquitous Ethernet technology.

Some higher performance claims are sometimes made from vendors of products that use so called ”Jumbo Ethernet (9000 Byte) frames’, but these, it says, still cannot achieve the performance of the Chelsio solution using standard Ethernet frames.

“Our benchmark tests show that Chelsio Communications has delivered the first 10Gbit/sec Ethernet adapter card that simultaneously achieves high throughput, low latency, and more importantly, low CPU utilisation – all while using the ubiquitous TCP/IP protocol suite with standard 1500-byte packets. Keeping CPU utilisation low frees the CPU to work on other important computing tasks in parallel,” said Wu Feng, team leader of research & development in Advanced Network Technologies (RADIANT) at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“Using high-speed Ethernet as the interconnect technology is preferred for many reasons, particularly its ubiquity and ease of deployment.”

Chelsio’s host bus adapter card, the T110, is built with Chelsio’s Terminator ASIC, a deeply-pipelined VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) device. The Terminator has a capacity of one million sessions, while the T110 card can support up to 64,000 connections.

The card is sampling now, and is priced at $4,900 in small quantities.