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Initiatives and Technology: The Changing Nature of Data Center I/O

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Initiatives and Technology: The Changing Nature of Data Center I/O


Enhanced data center networks increase bandwidth, reduce latency New forms of traditional networking for data center applications are emerging. These enhanced data center networks depend on two advancements in networking technology; first, they take full advantage of hardware acceleration by moving the traditional networking stack from software into hardware. Second, they define the notion of a switched fabric to include not only the first four layers of a traditional networking stack, (Physical, Networking, Link and Transport layers), but also to include substantial enhancements to the upper layers of the stack thus giving the data center application much more direct access to the underlying data center network as well as new features designed to significantly speed application performance. BR>

Two leading examples are the InfiniBand* Architecture (IBA) and RDMA-enabled IP networks. IBA is a channel-based, switched-fabric I/O architecture implementing a comprehensive stack from Layer 1 through Layer 4 exclusively in hardware. It also includes an RDMA capability as part of its transport layer, a comprehensive fabric management scheme, and a complete connection management protocol. An RDMA-enabled IP network is an adaptation of existing Ethernet technology (traditionally implemented in software) that is implemented in hardware with the help of a related technology known as a TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE). An RDMA-enabled IP network, as its name implies, also takes advantage of emerging RDMA technology to speed application performance. By increasing effective bandwidth and reducing latency, IBA and RDMA-enabled IP networks can significantly reduce the performance distinction between local I/O and remote I/O, thereby supporting and complementing the emergence of modular computing.

Read the full Initiatives and Technology White Paper.