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Cavium NIC Supports iWARP, RoCE

July 4, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

Cavium has delivered the first performance tweak to the FastLinq family since it acquired QLogic. The new NICs can serve in “universal RDMA” systems capable of running iWARP and RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) concurrently. Although Cavium’s home-grown LiquidIO NICs handle 10GbE and the new 25GbE standard, the FastLinq 41000 handles 10GbE, 25GbE, 40GbE, and 50GbE; it also offers broad software support. These features make it the company’s preferred NIC architecture.

Cavium offers the new FastLinq 41000 controller chip, which is in production now, in 11 models with various 10GbE, 25GbE, 40GbE, and 50GbE port options. Five members of the PCIe adapter family are generally available now, offering dual-port 10GbE or 10/25GbE configurations with either RJ45 copper or SFP+/SFP28 optical interfaces. Three additional OCP mezzanine products offering single-port 10/25GbE, dual-port 10GbE, and dual-port 10/25GbE with SFP optics are sampling now; production is slated for September.

The upgrade to QLogic’s original 45000 “Big Bear” design is incremental, but Cavium’s aggressive adoption of FastLinq indicates the company felt it was purchasing a vital NIC business. Cavium touts unique features in both of its NIC families: LiquidIO offers hardware crypto acceleration and Open vSwitch (OVS) offloads, whereas FastLinq offers RDMA and greater software compatibility. Both support tunneling and overlay protocols.

The 41000’s protocol and I/O features could make it a compelling choice relative to its only two competitors, Whitney+ from Broadcom and the ConnectX-4 LX from Mellanox. FastLinq targets cloud-service providers (CSPs) and OEMs, but LiquidIO will appeal to some CSPs as well. Intel’s new Purley server platform should expand the OEM market for 25GbE adapter cards.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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