Intel releases Open FCoE to boost 10Gb Ethernet

The chipmaker has unveiled its open-source Open FCoE software package, which aims to trim cabling and power in the datacentre, with major industry support

Intel has introduced Open FCoE, an open-source software package that aims to trim cabling and power use in the datacentre, and to unify storage and networking onto the same fabric.

The package, released on Thursday, means that traffic from NFS (Network File System), iSCSI or Fibre Channel can all be carried Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), creating a converged fabric for the datacentre's network, according to the chipmaker. FCoE allows traffic using the Fibre Channel protocol to run over 10Gb Ethernet networks.

"Today, on a virtualised server, you have eight to 10 1Gb connections and two Fibre Channel connections," Tom Swinford, general manager for Intel's LAN Access division, said on a conference call. "If you can reduce that to two 10Gb connections, you save on power and on cabling."

Intel believes that by migrating traffic to 10Gb Ethernet technology, IT departments can reduce power and cable costs by 50 and 80 percent respectively, with an overall infrastructure cost reduction of 29 percent. The free software package, which is a key part of Intel's Cloud 2015 and Open Data Centre strategies, is compatible with Intel's 10GbE X520 family of server adapters.

Intel said that the software migrates the resources needed to run FCoE from "expensive, proprietary hardware" up to the CPUs of individual server and storage hardware. According to Swinford, Open FCoE should consume around two percent of a single CPU.

Open FCoE backing

Open FCoE has gathered the backing of a number of major technology providers, including Microsoft, Red Hat, EMC, NetApp, Cisco, Brocade, Dell and Oracle. In their statements of support, these companies endorsed Intel's vision of 10Gb Ethernet as key to the future of datacentres.

"The cloud is going to be built on a standardised 10Gb Ethernet network," said Paul Brown, who leads EMC's storage networking business, on the conference call.

Cisco's Unified Computing System datacentre range and 10Gb Ethernet switches will all support the package, as will EMC's Symmetrix VMAX and VNX families of storage products, Intel said.

"Open FCoE fits well with Dell's [products] because it utilises components in the operating system to simplify the deployment and operation of converged networks," said Brian Payne, executive director of Dell's PowerEdge Marketing Group, in Intel's statement.

Intel said that FCoE is supported by a number of operating systems, including Windows Server 2008 R2, Novell Suse Linux Enterprise 11 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.


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