Data Centers

Upgrading the Datacenter to 10 Gigabit Ethernet

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Executive Summary

The standard for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (IEEE802.3ae) was ratified in 2002. While 10GbE deployments have grown every year since then, the technology has primarily been used to interconnect switches and routers. This paper presents an overview of the factors that are driving the growth for 10 GbE in the data center. Almost all of the server connections in data centers have remained at 1 Gbps, limiting the amount of network throughput available to each server. With recent enhancements in CPU performance, system I/O and storage I/O, the gigabit network has increasingly become the application and workload performance bottleneck. The primary reason for staying with Gigabit Ethernet has been cost performance. Until recently, it has been more cost-effective to have multiple GbE connections rather than a single 10 GbE port. In addition, most installed servers typically cannot utilize the full bandwidth of a 10 GbE connection. However, both of these factors are changing that will lead to widespread adoption of 10 GbE for server connectivity over the next few years. The paper suggests that for next-generation data centers, 10 Gigabit and higher speed Ethernet would be the interconnect of choice, providing key improvements in terms of bandwidth, latency, scalability, reliability and application performance. It also recommends 10 GbE solutions due to their cost effectiveness compared to multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports with substantially better delivery of throughput and latency.

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