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March - 2011 - issue > Technology

Server and I/O Virtualization Vs Cloud Computing (part-2)

kongkon Dutta
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
kongkon Dutta
I/O Virtualization
Then come the need to virtualize your I/O infrastructure. I/O is always a bottle neck in the progress of computer industry. As the processor speed has grown up over the years, so is the RAM speed and the hard disk and storage technology. Hard disks are replaced by faster flash disks. But what about you network speed, this can not be the same. Everybody wants to download in the DVD speed. So, there is the concept of I/O virtualization and various other technologies around it. TCP/IP played a much bigger role in software communication standards than any other network protocol. Different new technologies had immersed and died also.

A very good example of this is the dying InfiniBand Protocol and Architecture. InfiniBand provides a very high speed interconnect of 2.5Gbps per channel and there can be multiple channels. There are 1x, 2x, 4x and 8x connections available in the market moving the speed barrier to 2.5Gbps to 20Gbps. But they use a whole new hardware infrastructure to make the interconnect, also the protocol stack is different from TCP/IP. Now things are going back to square one and people are going back to good old TCP/IP for a better connectivity solution.

Solutions like TOE (TCP Offload Engine) came into picture whereby the most of the checksum calculations are offloaded to a dedicated ASIC/Chip inside NIC adapter card. While we talk about the technical details of the complexity into the TCP/IP Network driver, as an when the network adapter collects a new network packet it has to make sure that the packet is in good health. So, to make sure of the health of the incoming packet, the already computed checksum is recalculated on the receiving end to compare with the original result. This is very time consuming repetitive task, and hence in modern days network adapters this task is offloaded into the TCP Offload Engine hardware. When computations are directly done in the dedicated hardware it is always faster than doing it in the software using the CPU resources of the host machine.

Along the same line of TO Engine, Chelsio Communications a silicon vally startup provide a solution called “Unified Wire” which transmits iSCSI, RDMA and TCP/IP traffice across the same wired line with the complexity handled by the driver software and the network adapter hardware.

Broadcom, a another silicon vally company has TCP Offload Engine embedded inside their mother board, there by enhancing the capabilities of the Network Card, hence enhances the performance of the overall system.

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