Paving the way for Terabit Ethernet

Despite advancements in Wi-Fi technology and the recent introduction of Wi-Fi 6, Ethernet is still the go to technology businesses utilize when they need to move large amounts of data quickly, particularly in data centers. While the technology behind Ethernet is now more than 40 years old, new protocols have been developed over the years that enable even more gigabytes of data to be sent over it.

To learn more about the latest technologies, protocols, advancements and the future of Gigabit Ethernet and perhaps even one day soon Terabit Ethernet, TechRadar Pro spoke with Tim Klein, CEO at the storage connectivity company ATTO.

  • We’ve built a list of the best small business routers available
  • These are the best cloud storage services on the market
  • Also check out our roundup of the best powerline adapters

Ethernet was first introduced in 1980, how has the technology evolved since then and where does it fit in today’s data centre?

Now over four decades old, there have been some major enhancements to Ethernet technology but there is also a great deal that looks exactly the same as it did when it was first introduced. Originally intended for scientists to share small packets of data at 10 megabits per second (Mbps), we now see giant data centres sharing massive pools of unstructured data across Ethernet networks, and a roadmap that will reach Terabit Ethernet in just a few years.

The exponential growth of data, driven by new formats such as digital images, created a huge demand and those early implementations of shared storage over Ethernet could not meet the performance needs or handle congestions with deterministic latency. As a result, protocols like Fibre Channel were developed specifically for storage. Over the years, several innovations such as smart offloads and RDMA, have been introduced so Ethernet can meet the requirements of unstructured data and overcome the gridlock that can arise when large pools of data are transferred. The latest high-speed Ethernet standards like 10/25/40/50/100GbE are now the backbone of the modern data centre.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Applications today are demanding higher and higher performance. What are the challenges of configuring faster protocols? Can software help here?

Tuning is extremely important nowadays because of the demand for higher performance. Each system, whether it is a client or a server, should be fine-tuned to the requirements of each specific workflow. The sheer number of file-sharing protocols and workflow requirements can be overwhelming. In the past, you may have simply accepted that half of your bandwidth is taken away by overhead with misfires and packet loss slowing you to a crawl.

There are a number of methods available today to optimise throughput and tune Ethernet adapters for highly intensive workloads. Hardware drivers now come with built-in algorithms that improve efficiency, TCP offload engines reduce overhead coming from the network stack. Large Receive Offload (LRO) and TCP Segmentation Offload (TSO) can also be implemented in both hardware and software to aid in the transfer of large volumes of unstructured data. The addition of buffers like a striding receive queue, paces packet delivery increasing fairness and improving performance. Newer technologies such as RDMA allow direct memory access bypassing the OS network stack and virtually eliminating overhead.

What is driving the adoption of 10/25/50/100GbE interfaces?

The demand for larger, higher-performing storage solutions and enthusiasm for new Ethernet technologies such as RDMA and NVMe-over-Fabrics is driving the adoption of high speed Ethernet in the modern data centre. 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) is now the dominant interconnect for server class adapters, and 40 GbE was quickly introduced to push the envelope by combining four lanes of 10GbE traffic. This finally evolved into the 25/50/100GbE standard which uses 25 Gigabit lanes. Networks are now using a mixture of all speeds 10/25/40/50/100GbE, with 100GbE links at the core, 50 and 25 GbE towards the edge.

The ability to mix and match speeds, designing pathways to give them as much power they need and balancing across the data centre from the core to the edge, is driving the rapid adoption of the 25/50/100GbE standard. Newer technologies such as RDMA open up new opportunities for businesses to use NICs and Network-Attached Storage (NAS) with deterministic latency to handle workloads that in the past would have to be done by more expensive Storage-Area-Networks (SAN) using Fibre Channel adapters that need more specialised support. More recently, we are seeing NVMe-Over-Fabrics, which uses RDMA transport to share bleeding-edge NVMe technology over a storage fabric. 100GbE NICs with RDMA opened the door for NVMe storage fabrics that are achieving the fastest throughput on the market today. These previously unthinkable levels of speed and reliability allow businesses to do more with their data than ever before.

What is RDMA and what impact does it have on Ethernet technology?

Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) allows Smart NICs to access memory directly from another system without going through the traditional TCP method and without any CPU intervention. Traditional transfers relied on the OS network stack (TCP/IP) to communicate and this was the cause of massive overhead, resulting in lost performance and limiting what was possible with Ethernet and storage. RDMA now enables lossless transfers that virtually eliminate overhead with a massive increase in efficiency due to saving CPU cycles. Performance is increased and latency is reduced, allowing organisations to do more with less. RDMA is in fact an extension of DMA (Direct Memory Access) and bypasses the CPU to allow “zero-copy” operations. These technologies have been fixtures in Fibre Channel storage for many years. That deterministic latency which made Fibre Channel the premier choice for enterprise and intense workloads is now readily available with Ethernet, making it easier for organisations of all sizes to enjoy high-end shared storage.

How does NVMe fit in?

Where NVMe fits in with Ethernet is via the NVMe-over-Fabrics protocol. This is simply the fastest way to transfer files over Ethernet today. NVMe itself was designed to take advantage of modern SSD and flash storage by upgrading the SATA/SAS protocols. NVMe sets the bar so much higher by taking advantage of non-volatile memory’s ability to operate in parallel. Since NVMe is a direct connect storage technology, the next leap to shared storage is where Ethernet or Fibre Channel comes in: taking NVMe to a shared storage fabric.

(Image credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock)

What are Ethernet requirements of storage technologies such as RAM disk and smart storage?

Smart NICs is a relatively new term to refer to the ability of network controllers to handle operations that in the past have been the burden of a CPU. Offloading the system’s CPU improves overall efficiency. Taking that concept even further, NIC manufacturers are coming out with field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology which enables application-specific features, including offloads and data acceleration, that can be developed and coded to the FPGA. Resting at the hardware layer makes these NICs incredibly fast with huge potential in the future for more innovations that will be added at that layer.

RAM disk Smart Storage is further advancing this area with the integration of data acceleration hardware into storage devices that use volatile RAM memory (which is faster than the non-volatile memory used in NVMe devices today). This results in extremely quick storage with the ability to streamline intense workloads.

The combination of lightning-fast RAM storage, a NIC controller and FPGA integrated together with smart offloads and data acceleration has enormous potential for extremely high speed storage. RAM disk and smart storage would not exist without the latest innovations in Ethernet RDMA and NVMe-over-Fabrics.

What does the future hold when it comes to Ethernet technology?

200 Gigabit Ethernet is already starting to bleed over from HPC solutions to data centres. The standard doubles the lanes to 50GbE each and there is a hefty roadmap that will see 1.5 Terabit in just a few years. PCI Express 4.0 and 5.0 will play an important role in enabling these higher speeds and companies will continue to look for ways to bring power to the edge, accelerate transfer speeds, and find ways to handle CPU and GPU operations with network controllers and FPGAs.

  • We’ve also featured the best network switches
Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


COVID: how worried should we be about the new AY.4.2 lineage of the coronavirus?

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, with its spike proteins shown in blue. Design_Cells/Shutterstock No sooner than you thought all the talk of new COVID variants was over, there’s news ... Read more »

3G is going away. Here's how to prepare: Talking Tech podcast

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current ... Read more »

Hertz to buy 100,000 Teslas as rental car company pivots toward electric vehicles

Having survived a brush with death, Hertz is aiming for an electric rebirth. The rental car company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early in the pandemic, announced Monday ... Read more »

New Oculus Quest VR leaks ahead of this week's Facebook Connect

We may have finally seen what the new VR headset that will replace the Oculus Quest 2 looks like. Convincing-looking leaked tutorial videos are showing off an all-new Oculus headset ... Read more »

WhatsApp may verify your documents to use Payments

Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp may soon ask to verify your identity to access the payment feature. WhatsApp pay was launched in 2018 in India as a part of trail run ... Read more »

iPhone users, researchers have a 'Facebook warning' for you

Security researchers (via Forbes) have warned iOS users that the Facebook app installed on their device is still harvesting their data with the help of the accelerometer even if they ... Read more »

British scientists ‘frozen out' of EU research due to Brexit row, MPs warn

A delay in the UK’s participation in EU research programmes because of a row about the Brexit deal is beginning to hurt British science, MPs have warned. A report by ... Read more »

Hey, big suspender! Spanx underwear boss gifts all employees first class tickets and $10,000

Watch: Spanx founder surprises workers with two first class tickets to anywhere in the world Spanx employees are currently celebrating as the company's founder has recently gifted staff two first ... Read more »

Macy's early Black Friday deals are here: Save on Instant Pot, Shark vacuums and more

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Macy’s early holiday sales are finally here. With the kickoff of ... Read more »

Microsoft reinstates Hot Reload tool after huge open-source backlash

Microsoft has caved in to the pressure from the open source community and reversed its decision to yank a key feature from the upcoming .NET 6 release.. Microsoft wrongly rubbed ... Read more »

You can already use Google's Play Store in Windows 11 – here's how

Running Android apps in Windows 11 through Amazon was brought to the Insider program last week, and already a developer has unlocked Google’s Play Store for you to run any ... Read more »

LNG demand to rise 25-50% by 2030: Morgan Stanley

Samsung Heavy Industries’ LNG carrier / Courtesy of Samsung Heavy Industries Demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expected to rise by 25 percent to 50 percent by 2030, making ... Read more »

Lenovo launches Tab K10 with 10.3-inch FHD display, MediaTek Helio P22T and 7500 mAh battery at Rs 25,000

Lenovo has announced the launch of its new tablet Tab K10 In India. The new Android 11-based tablet comes with a 10.3-inch FHD display. The Lenovo Tab K10 is powered ... Read more »

Wu-Tang Clan could lead official soundtrack's production for rumored Xbox game codenamed ‘Shaolin'

Photo credit: Billy Freeman / Unsplash It has been more than a month since a massive list of unannounced games were leaked from the Nvidia GeForce Now network, but fans continue hearing that ... Read more »

One of Microsoft's most-hated products might actually be getting a useful upgrade

Searching for lost files or that extra bit of data to make the difference at work could be quicker than ever thanks to a new upgrade from Microsoft. The tech ... Read more »

Best wireless gaming mouse 2021

There was a time when even the best wireless gaming mouse couldn’t hold a candle to its tethered colleagues, but that’s all in the past. The wireless gaming mice of ... Read more »

Twitter downvote feature may come to web as well

Twitter is reportedly working to expand the downvote feature to more users. According to the known tech blogger, Jane Manchun Wong, the company is working on a downvote button for ... Read more »

macOS Monterey rolling out on October 25: Here are the things you should keep in mind before updating

Announced at Worldwide Developers Conference, macOS Monterey will be rolling out to compatible Mac laptops and desktops on October 25. The operating system brings several new features and changes to ... Read more »

Google Drive for desktop client receives complete support for Apple M1 chip

Google has finally updated its Drive for desktop application with full support for Apple M1 powered Mac laptops and desktops.Earlier this year, Google rolled out M1 support for its previous ... Read more »

Best web development tools in 2021

The best web development tools make it simple and easy for developers to develop and design a custom website platform. Web development has long since left the grounds of having ... Read more »

Best Excel online courses in 2021

The best Excel online courses will make it easy to develop basic or advanced skills using Microsoft Excel by distance learning. Best Excel online courses Click the links below to ... Read more »

Facebook papers: What we know about how misinformation and extremism spread from whistleblower

Misinformation and extremism spreading unchecked. Hate speech sparking conflict and violence in the U.S. and abroad. Human traffickers sharing a platform with baby pictures and engagement announcements. Despite its mission ... Read more »

The Facebook Papers: Documents reveal internal fury and dissent over site's policies

Thousands of leaked documents highlight employees’ disillusionment with spread of misinformation and calls to violence. Read more »

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou returns to hero's welcome at company headquarters after 21-day quarantine

Huawei Technologies Co finance chief Meng Wanzhou, who has completed a 21-day Covid-19 quarantine after returning from Canada, came back to her company’s head office to a hero’s welcome on ... Read more »

Electric vehicle savings explored

Driving an electric vehicle can save you a lot of money on gas… but how much money does it really save you? Well, it depends. Read more »

Why Strictly Come Dancing fans are fuming with Anton Du Beke

Photo credit: BBC Strictly Come Dancing fans had two major talking points after Saturday evening's [23rd October] show: Adam Peaty's fairly tight trousers, and Anton Du Beke's mispronunciation of Oti ... Read more »

Oklahoma resumes lethal injections that ‘burn men alive' this week. Seven men may die before they can appeal

Oklahoma may execute seven death row inmates before their legal appeal in federal court can play out. (Images courtesy of Oklahoma Department of Corrections and Justice for Julius; Composite by ... Read more »

Museum bosses back anti-woke charter to guard against rushed and unplanned changes to UK heritage

A statue of Robert Milligan is pictured being removed by workers outside the Museum of London Docklands near Canary Wharf – Reuters Bosses from three of the UK’s leading museums ... Read more »

Megan Thee Stallion's bodyguard snubs F1 interviewer who awkwardly asked her to ‘freestyle rap'

Megan Thee Stallion’s bodyguard snubbed F1 interviewer Martin Brundle after he asked the singer to “freestyle rap”. Footage of the awkward encounter was broadcast on Sky Sports, as the rapper ... Read more »

Facebook whistleblower live: Frances Haugen appears before UK parliamentary committee

The latest on Facebook as data scientist turned whistleblower Frances Haugen prepares to give evidence to MPs on the UK parliament's Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill from 2.30pm. Read more »

Another popular npm package infected with malware

In an audacious incident, threat actors hijacked the account of the developer of a widely used JavaScript library, UAParser.ja, to replace the legitimate code with malicious one infused with malware ... Read more »

Best Raspberry Pi distros in 2021

Believe it or not, the Raspberry Pi is now eight years old. In this relatively short period the Pi has ushered in a new revolution in computing that stretches far ... Read more »

Elon Musk reveals his crypto buys

Elon Musk said he holds Dogecoin but no Shiba Inu. Photo: AP Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, a crypto proponent, revealed he has not invested in meme token Shiba Inu, ... Read more »

'World's most expensive' fish spotted off coast of Britain

‘World’s most expensive’ fish spotted off coast of Britain Read more »

Panasonic unveils prototype battery to help Tesla lower production costs

Panasonic on Monday unveiled a new large prototype battery designed to help Tesla Inc lower electric vehicle (EV) production costs, in a move the Japanese company’s battery chief said would ... Read more »

A world without checkouts: How till-free supermarkets are changing London's grocery game

(ES composite) Last time I walked out of a shop without paying, I had to make a red-faced trip back to Boots. This time — at a Tesco Express by ... Read more »

Electric cars: Price of EVs puts people off switching from petrol and diesel, poll finds

The cost of electric vehicles is the biggest factor putting people off switching from petrol and diesel, exclusive polling for i has revealed. According to the survey, conducted by Redfield ... Read more »

Julian Knight: Online Safety Bill is ‘simplistic and bad politics', Tory MP tells Boris Johnson

Banning anonymous social media accounts is “simplistic and unworkable”, the chair of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee has told i. Julian Knight also took aim at Boris Johnson ... Read more »

Nintendo Switch doesn't need better hardware, according to World War Z dev

With the polarizing release of the Nintendo Switch OLED leading many Switch owners to stick with their original models, interest in an eventual upgraded version remains high. A potential Nintendo ... Read more »

Tesla Cybertruck looks unbelievably cool in new off-road footage

Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk described his company’s in-development Cybertruck as a “special project” near and dear to his heart – and thanks to some brand new footage ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic