iWARP embraced by Ethernet Alliance

The Ethernet Alliance this week threw its weight behind iWARP, an IETF standard that takes the concept of convergence on Ethernet networks to another level.

Internet Wide-Area RDMA Protocol, or iWARP, uses TCP/IP for low-latency transmissions over Ethernet. The protocol allows one computer to write directly to the memory of another computer via RDMA. This brings data center fabric technology to Ethernet, which in a converged data center could also be supporting storage and data networking.

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The technology improves performance by eliminating intermediate buffer copies, bypassing the kernel, and processing TCP/IP in hardware to free up the CPU for application processing.

As 10 Gigabit Ethernet becomes more prevalent, iWARP “is poised for significant penetration of the data center,” the Ethernet Alliance contends.

The Ethernet Alliance has now established iWARP as a technology that its Ethernet in the Data Center subcommittee will focus on. The group says it will help users and developers, organize demonstrations of iWARP and produce white papers on the subject. Alliance members that will be participating in the effort will include Broadcom, Chelsio Communications, Cisco, Intel and QLogic.

The Alliance also quoted Microsoft as saying that iWARP has “many benefits” and is hitting “an important inflection point” as 10 Gigabit Ethernet is adopted by more companies.

The group points out that several vendors have RDMA network interface cards in production that support iWARP. The iWARP software stack was developed and is maintained by the Open Fabric Alliance. Linux and Windows HPC Server 2008 support it.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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