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IEEE studying Ethernet in blades

Dec 09, 20032 mins

* IEEE forms study group to look at Ethernet possibilities in blade servers

With the rapid rise of blade servers, we’ve started to see Ethernet being used as an interconnect technology on the backplanes connecting the blades. Now the IEEE is looking at the possibility of creating a standard specific to this application.

Last month the IEEE created a study group to look into using Ethernet in blade server backplanes.

While servers in the past had been connected to a central switch via wires or fiber-optic lines, now we are seeing blade servers that slide into a central chassis and connect to each other over a backplane. The advantages of this approach include power and space savings.

As the organizers of the study group pointed out, the interconnection between blade servers is still a network; it’s just inside a box. That network still has to be defined.

The group started off by saying it would use the existing standards where possible, and add to the standard only where necessary. It wouldn’t change the MAC client.

According to a presentation posted on the IEEE Web site, enhancements might include specifications for priority-based flow control for different traffic types and failover or automatic protection switching.

It’s interesting to see blade servers take on functions that traditionally were left to external communications devices – routers and switches and so forth. An IEEE study group looking into standardizing the communications, if it turns into a standard, could accelerate the trend further.