Intel Touts 10Gb Ethernet in the Data Center

The chipmaker's Cisco-compatible adapter aims to prime the pump for faster interconnects between systems using XPAK dense technology.

Under the mantra of "faster, cheaper and more," Intel introduced a new 10-Gbps Ethernet (10GbE) network adapter this week for servers in the data center.

Along with the help if its San Jose, Calif.-based partner Cisco Systems , the chipmaking giant Monday took the wraps off of its PRO/10GbE SR Server Adapter ($4,770).

Intel said the new adapter is ideal for data centers that involve distances of fewer than 300 meters. Later this summer, the company said it plans on introducing a version for single-mode fiber, the Intel PRO/10GbE LR Server Adapter, for applications involving distances up to 10 kilometers, such as communications among regional data centers.

Intel's new 10Gb Ethernet products are coming at a time when companies are rushing to put faster network connections in corporate desktops and data centers that use bandwidth-intensive applications such as server clusters, network storage, medical imaging and graphic design. Over the past year, the company has been supplying PC manufacturers with their Intel Gigabit Ethernet LAN connections built into the motherboard.

Gigabit Ethernet competes with ATM in providing networking backbones. Gigabit Ethernet is simpler, but is limited to data. ATM is more flexible and versatile, offering support for voice, video and multimedia in addition to data.

According to analysts, making 10GbE server connectivity viable in the data center requires an adapter that is priced at less than $5,000 and operates on standard multimode fiber, which represents 90 percent of the optical cabling in data center networks.

Intel said it is cutting costs and making 10GbE more attractive by investing in XPAK optical technology. Co-developed by Infineon, Intel and Picolight, the specification supports standard server slots and dense I/O and PCI compatibility.

"In the higher layers of the enterprise network, 10 GbE has proven its value in the aggregation of traffic among switches and in high-performance computing applications," said Hans Geyer, Intel vice president said in a statement. "It now promises to fill a similar rapidly growing need in the data center because the proliferation of GbE to the desktop and ever more network intensive applications are demanding more bandwidth."

To make sure that it does not live in a vacuum, Intel's collaboration with Cisco centered on interoperability with Cisco's Catalyst 6500 Series Switches, a perennial favorite in data centers. The two companies have been jointly pushing for 10 GbE in the data center. In addition to educational seminars, Intel and Cisco are conducting product sampling programs to assist IT managers who are installing 10GbE networks.

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