On January 27th, QLogic and Broadcom announced a demonstration of the first end-to-end 25GbE and 100GbE solutions. The two companies also announced interoperability between adapters based on QLogic cLOM8514 chips and Broadcom switches based on StrataXGS Tomahawk chips.
Reading between the lines, this announcement represents a major milestone for server connectivity – the world’s first 100Gb Ethernet Adapter.
I talked to Ahmet Houssein, vice president and general manager for the QLogic Ethernet business unit, and learned that 20GbE, 25GbE, 50GbE and 100Gbe server adapters and storage chips have been in qualification by major OEMs since October of 2014.
According to Ahmet, “QLogic expects server products to be introduced to market as part of the Intel Grantley refresh cycle. Storage products will follow.”
I translate that to mean server OEMs will start shipping 20GbE, 25GbE, 50GbE and 100GbE server adapters in late 2015 and early 2016.
QLogic Ethernet adapters based on the cLOM8514 chips will be available in 4-port x 10Gb, 2-port x 20Gb, 4-port x 25Gb and 1-port x 100Gb configurations.
While 100GbE adapters are sexy because of their massive performance, the 25GbE adapters promise to be popular with data center managers because they will slash switch ports and cabling. For example, enterprise servers configured today with a pair of dual-port 10GbE adapters require four switch ports and four cables to deliver 40Gb of bandwidth. A single dual-port 25GbE adapter will require only two switch ports and two cables to provide 50Gb of bandwidth.
For architects designing scale-out environments such as HPC, Hadoop or object storage clusters, QLogic technology which supports RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) is positioned to give InfiniBand a run for its money. The 50GbE ports on the QLogic adapter are set to contend with 56Gb FDR InfiniBand. At 100Gb, QLogic and the Ethernet community are for the first time getting to market with leading-edge speed alongside the InfiniBand industry.
The availability of QLogic cLOM8514 technology is also pointing towards a major leap forward for storage systems. Given that storage vendors are qualifying the cLOM8514 chips, there are NAS, iSCSI and FCoE storage systems running in OEM labs today with scary-fast 50G and 100G ports.
The companies which stand to gain the most from this technology the soonest are the all-flash array vendors. By supporting millions of I/Os per second, all-flash arrays are capable of saturating multiple 10Gb ports. The availability of 25, 50, and 100GbE ports gives storage vendors the plumbing they need to build bigger and faster all-flash arrays.
My recommendation to IT organizations is to put this on your Christmas list. If you’re planning a server refresh with Intel Grantley servers later this year, you will want to be asking your server vendor about the availability of 25GbE adapters.
Stay tuned for more on 25GbE, 50GbE and 100GbE NICs. I hope to get my hands on a cLOM8514-based adapter soon for testing.
Category: Feature Articles