Intel has announced that it is to open up parts of its own technology
to optimise the networking performance of servers.
Last year the company released I/OAT: Input/Output Acceleration Technology,
included in its Xeon 5100 and 5300 systems. But now, engineers will be
able to utilise QuickData, a component within I/OAT that boosts networking
QuickData includes a Direct Memory Access (DMA) engine, which optimises the
way in which CPUs extract data from memory. It does this, Intel claims, by
significantly reducing CPU overheads, freeing resources for more critical tasks.
I/OAT also uses the server's processors more efficiently by leveraging
architectural improvements within the CPU, chipset, network controller and
firmware to minimise what Intel believes are "performance-limiting bottlenecks”.
The technology accelerates TCP/IP processing, delivers data-movement efficiencies across the
entire server platform and minimises system overheads, Intel believes. It also provides
network acceleration that scales seamlessly across multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports.
I/OAT is, Intel believes, a "safe and flexible choice" because of its integration into
popular operating systems, avoiding the support risks associated with relying on third-party
hardware suppliers for network stack updates. I/OAT also preserves critical network
configurations such as teaming and failover by maintaining control of the network stack
processing within the CPU, hence reduced support risks for IT departments.
By enabling products from other suppliers to use the data acceleration engine,
"QuickData will help the industry benefit from increased speed, scalability
and server reliability," said Kirk Scaugen, vice-president and server products
group general manager at Intel.
A number of heavyweights including IBM, Broadcom, Mellanox, Microsoft and VMware
are understood to be planning to support the technology.