Virtualization Technology News and Information
NextIO Demonstrates Shared PCI Express at Microsoft's WinHEC Conference

Quoting from the press release:

In a preview of I/O Virtualization technology, NextIO, Inc., a switch module developer for blade servers, today demonstrated multiple blades sharing an LSI Logic Fibre Channel HBA across a PCI Express (PCIe) midplane. The low-cost module fits into the high-speed switch socket of unmodified chassis in production from both Fujitsu-Siemens Computers and Dell.
NextIO accepted Microsoft's invitation to demonstrate its Shared I/O solution in the Microsoft Pavilion at WinHEC 2006. "This virtualized I/O hardware lets Windows Server customers protect their current operating systems investment while allowing system vendors to explore innovative and more cost effective blade server designs. Shared I/O technology is also complementary to future server virtualization technologies Microsoft is developing in cooperation with our industry partners within standards forums such as the PCI-SIG," said Jim Ni, Windows Server Marketing Group Product Manger at Microsoft Corporation.

The module includes a PCIe switch chip developed by NextIO that converts the chassis midplane fabric into a PCIe fabric and enables I/O to be shared across all of the blades in the chassis. "This switched PCIe fabric provides blade server users with new headroom for I/O connectivity and can be a future building block in our Dynamic Data Center strategy," said Klaus Kratzer, Vice President Enterprise Server Products, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers. "With PCIe, any I/O technology can be supported on a single midplane."

PCIe is the most efficient I/O technology in the industry. Shared PCIe-based switch modules can be produced at a fraction of the cost of switches based on other technologies (e.g., Ethernet and Fibre Channel switches). The consolidation of switching fabrics within the chassis offers tremendous promise for cost reduction and increased flexibility.

"Dell has worked to support PCI Express as the industry standard for I/O which continues to show its capability for further expansion," said Kevin Kettler, chief technology officer at Dell. "The demonstrated ability of PCIe combined with NextIO switch technology to easily consolidate and share IO devices means that customers can expect reduced cost and complexity and increased flexibility in the future."

The Shared PCIe Fibre Channel Switch Module fits into chassis that are already shipping and will provide an affordable alternative to traditional Fibre Channel switches. No OS changes are required to accommodate the module, and as new Fibre Channel speed grades become available, Shared PCIe technology will accommodate them without OS or chassis modifications.

Upcoming modules will include 10 Gigabit Ethernet, and a combination of both Fibre Channel and 10G Ethernet in the same module. "As the leader in the 10 Gigabit adapter market, Neterion is pleased to be able to partner with NextIO on Shared I/O technology," stated Dave Zabrowski, President and CEO of Neterion. "NextIO's switch modules for blade server environments are a perfect complement to our 10 GbE Hyperframe architecture that provides virtualization at the I/O level."

These modules have the potential to replace virtually any switch in any blade server chassis. "When chassis are architected around a virtualized PCIe midplane fabric, PCIe switching technology can replace all other switches and become the sole switching fabric for blade server chassis," said K.C. Murphy, President and CEO of NextIO.

"Once PCIe becomes the dominant blade chassis midplane fabric, then all components are truly modular. Processors, storage and I/O can all be upgraded and maintained independently, making blades simpler and more future proof," Murphy continued.


Published Monday, May 22, 2006 6:14 AM by David Marshall
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