Servers get new 10Gbit/s connectivity

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IT managers needing fast network server connections could be tempted by optical fibre vendor Finisar’s new 10Gbit/s serial active optical cabling system, Laserwire.

The Laserwire system consists of an optical fibre cable as well as an electrical connector. At Supercomputing 07, the firm also launched Ethernet adapter modules which can connect to legacy 10Gbit/s optical transceiver ports.

Finisar’s sales director Jan Meise said, “The challenge we’re addressing with Laserwire is the need for a low weight, low power, low latency, and high density 10Gbit/s server connectivity, from the network to the switch. We’re also aiming the technology at LAN on motherboard (LOM) architectures.”

Meise said that 10Gbit/s Ethernet connectivity using optical transceivers with optical fibre cabling were increasingly being used in data centres at the aggregation layer, “since it’s currently too expensive for server connectivity.”

In order to provide a simple solution Finisar aims to make use of what already exists in network hardware, such as MACs, PHYs, switch fabrics, optical transceivers and electrical interface standards – “we don’t want to re-invent the wheel,” added Meise.

With the next generation multi-core server boards coming as well as and server virtualisation, Finisar sees a trend in linking aggregation trunk 4 x 1Gbit/s links to make 4Gbit/s connections..

Laserwire weighs less than CX-4 and has a longer range than the 15m currently supported. IEEE 10GBASE-T copper technology has problems with the port power consumption, currently 10W per port, and the cabling required to support this standard, Category 6a is also heavier than Laserwire and has a smaller bend radius say Finisar.

Finisar also have an adaptor to fit the current generation of small form factor 10Gbit/s Ethernet transceivers (XFPs), the links from which Finisar say are too expensive for server to switch links.

Finisar expects HPC installations using Laserwire to start in 2008.
itweek.co.uk @ 2010 Incisive Media
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