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Gigabit Ethernet Technology Supports Total System Performance
Publication: CI Press Release Issued: Date: 1999-08-24 Reporter: CI Systems

CI Press Release

1999-08-24

Server connections to a network are subject to a special set of demands and operating criteria which frequently cannot be met by conventional NICs. For example, performance, availability, CPU utilisation and fault tolerance, in particular, are far more important for a server than a workstation. Total system performance must be taken into account when selecting not only the underlying technology, but also the actual products to be used.

Gigabit Ethernet now provides an industry standard networking technology designed to operate at 1 Gbit/s in half-duplex mode, or 2 Gbit/s in full-duplex mode, across different fibre-optic and twin-axial media. An additional provision to the standard, to be completed in 1999, will define the standards of transmission across twisted-pair cabling.

Because much of the Gigabit Ethernet technology development has been based on 10 Mbit/s Ethernet and 100 Mbit/s Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet supports the steadily increasing demands for greater networking bandwidth in a familiar and predictable manner. Standard Ethernet, and Fast Ethernet, are now used in most local area network applications, so it makes sense that Gigabit Ethernet has already been accepted as an evolution of common 10/100 Ethernet even though it is still a "new" technology.

High compatiblity with conventional Ethernet and Fast Ethernet technologies allows Gigabit Ethernet to be easily integrated with them. There are signs of this everywhere in the industry as products become available that provide a smooth transition between Ethernet of various speeds. This perspective is supported by many common technical aspects present among 10/100/1000 Ethernet specifications, as there are, for example, even basic characteristics like uniform packet format and common packet lengths.

Additionally, decades of Ethernet development and implementation experience are contributing to the easy transfer of know-how in network design and management, all of which are making Gigabit Ethernet an easy migration choice for most users. Combining all of these elements makes Gigabit Ethernet one of the most attractive LAN connectivity options available for both servers and corporate backbones.

Today, market leader SysKonnect delivers both high performance and high-end reliability for Gigabit Ethernet by providing the industry's first dual-link Gigabit Ethernet adapter, created specifically for today's advanced network server.

SysKonnect has specialised in the design and manufacture of highly reliable, fault-tolerant network interface cards since the mid-1980s when the company introduced its first fault-tolerant FDDI products. Since that time, SysKonnect and FDDI have become synonymous for outstanding realiability and high performance. The companys years of experience with FDDI dual ring and dual-homing, redundant systems has enabled it to build a unique skill set among its design engineers.

This skill set, or core competence, has matured and been refined as many generations of server hardware products, operating systems and networking protocols have been introduced. Years of expertise gained through networking most of these different systems means that SysKonnect understands both the general networking requirements for routine server connectivity as well as the practical application of extremely high performance technologies like Gigabit Ethernet.

SysKonnect's new SK-NET GE Gigabit Ethernet server adapters deliver on the promise of Gigabit throughput, Gigabit performance and Gigabit reliability for high-end servers. Optimised to support both 64 bit/66 MHz PCI and 32 bit/33 MHz PCI bus based systems, these adapters have been developed around SysKonnect's own highly advanced PCI ASIC. This state-of-the-art ASIC enables the SK-NET GE adapter to support true 64 bit wide transfer between the Gigabit Ethernet MAC interface and the PCI bus, ensuring complete compatibility and maximum throughput, while reducing CPU utilisation.

Supporting the 64-bit/66 MHz bus bandwidth specification of 533 MBps, four times higher than conventional 32-bit systems, the full-duplex SK-NET GE will surely not be the bottleneck in your server system.

In addition, both single port and dual link adapters allow 64-bit addressing in a single cycle to address more than 4 GByte of RAM - almost a necessity for many of today's high-end server applications. Compatibility for 32-bit systems is ensured through a dual address cycle mode in all SK-NET GE adapters.

Attaching a server to two points in the network infrastructure means less down-time if there are failures within the network. The "SK-NET GE dual link" is the first Gigabit Ethernet NIC to provide this crucial capability by delivering full Gigabit service on one port, while keeping the second port active as a full bandwidth redundant link. In the event of a cable, port or switch failure, the SK-NET GE adapter automatically switches over to the full bandwidth Gigabit backup port. There is no user intervention required. Depending on the networking protocol used, there is normally no interruption in service for the server or the clients.

Dual Homing with a single SysKonnect adapter provides the ultimate in reliable server connectivity while using only a single PCI slot in the server. Unlike other techniques for fail-over protection which require at least two PCI slots, the SK-NET GE is designed to protect your network while protecting your server investment.

Using a universal high-end PCI bus interface, the SK-NET GE server adapters from SysKonnect support not only the most powerful implementation of the 64 bit/66 MHz PCI bus, but also all other possible PCI bus configurations using 32 or 64 bits at 33 to 66 MHz. The product line includes 1000Base-SX and 1000Base-LX adapters that offer both single network ports and redundant ports for the highest reliability and fault tolerance.

The SK-NET GE product line consists of two basic NIC designs. The first is a single port full-duplex adapter in short-card formfactor, for PCI bus systems. The model is available with either SX (for multimode fibre), or LX optics (for multimode and singlemode fibre). Second, is a dual-port adapter in long-card formfactor, for PCI bus systems. This model is also available with either SX or LX optics.

The core technology of both products is a high-performance PCI to Gigabit Ethernet ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), developed by SysKonnect. This model is the fundamental connection between the PCI bus and Gigabit Ethernet MAC controller(s) on the adapter and is the key to high performance communications in the final product. The ASIC was designed for use with both 64-bit/66 MHz PCI bus interfaces, as well as 32-bit systems with 33 MHz clock. The adapters are true Plug and Play devices automatically detecting and adjusting themselves to the correct PCI bus configuration upon installation.

The dual-port adapter is the only Gigabit Ethernet NJC available that can provide fault tolerance through fallover redundancy coupled with data transfer rates in the Gigabit range. The dual-link versions of the SK-NET GE series offer the best performance for high-end servers where maximum availability and reliability are a basic requirement.

The dual-link adapters provide full duplex Gigabit communications on a primary port, and use the second full duplex, full bandwidth, Gigabit port as a "warm" standby link. In the event of a failure presented to the primary port, the adapter automatically reverts to the standby link with no disruption in service.

This is made possible by SysKonnect's unique RLMT (Redundant Link Management Technology), which provides fail-safe connectivity with the same reliability as dual-attached FDDI connections. RLMT logic is built into each dual-port adapter and therefore requires no additional software or system resources to implement. Dual-port network connections can be made between one adapter and one switch, or from one adapter to two different switches which means that server connectivity will automatically be there for users, even if part of the infrastructure fails.

Please refer to www.syskonnect.com or www.ccii.co.za for more information.

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