10G Ethernet - the next generation of products

There have been several announcements in the last month, which, when taken together, add up to a significant improvement in possible networked systems performance.

Starting from the inside of the server, and working outwards :

Xeon 5600
Intel announced the Xeon processor 5600 (4 and 6 core) and the i7-980 6 core processor. These support great flexibility in trading off price, frequency, power and cache size. Examples :

Intel Processor frequency Cache Power Cores Price
Xeon® X5680 3.33 GHz 12 MB 130W 6 / 12 $1663
Xeon® E5503 2.00 GHz 4 MB 80W 2 / 2 $188

IBM demonstrated a 40% improvement in operations per watt in a X3650 server using these processors - see the Intel reference below for the benchmark descriptions.

2 x 10GE port Solarstorm SFN 5122F NIC card
Solarflare announced a dual port 10GE NIC card, with hypervisor bypass; Single Root I/O Virtualization (support for thousands of vNICs); stateless offload for iSCSI, RSS, TCP/IP and UDP, LSO/TSO and LRO; 5 - 8 Watts per port; driver support for Microsoft Windows®, Red Hat® and RHEL™ Linux, Solaris™, VMware®, Citrix® XenServer™ and Novell SLES. If the Enterprise Onload application acceleration is used with these NICs, " the SFN 5122F delivers sub-5 microsecond UDP/TCP application latencies, while supporting message rates in the millions. It also significantly reduces latency jitter, making it ideal for high-frequency trading." Price $1,110, due to ship in April 2010. (The press release doesn't say whether this is a one off or quantity price).

384 x 10GE ports switch
Arista announced general availability of the 7500 switch which was shown at the November SC09 supercomputing show in Portland. This is the switch architecture with buffers, so the port to port latency is given as 4.5 microseconds, with power at less than 10W per port. (The lowest latency Arista switch is the 24 x 10GE port 7124S, at 600 nanoseconds and about $500 per port). Pricing for the 7500: starts at $140,000, fully configured at $1,200 per port (which multiplies out to $460,800)

32 x 10GE load balancing, filtering, and measurement
cPacket Networks announced a device, the cVu320G, combining complete packet inspection with Marvell's Prestera™-CX Switch chips. The device will support measurement of the time taken by specific packets to move from one part of the network to another, as well as the time and contents when 10GE links are fully loaded; this kind of information about packet volume and content on the wire can be used to identify bottlenecks and inform decisions about which parts of the systems infrastructure would most benefit from upgrades. The cVu320G is due to ship in April 2010. The press release gave no indication about pricing.

Combining the latest processors with recent dual port 10GE NIC cards and high capacity, compact, low power switches provides the next generation hardware platform, for use in house, or installation in co-location facilities. Fractional shares of these platforms will soon be available from hosting providers.

The securities industry, always searching for lower latency and well as lower power, is an early adopter customer for these capabilities. NYSE Euronext announced early customer testing for "trading in a box", combining market data engines, ordering engines, smart order-routing engines and market access engines inside a single server, at the Mahwah, N.J., data center.

Intel Xeon 5600 press release
Solarflare NICs press release
Arista Networks press release
cPacket Networks product brief pdf
Trading in a box article