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Cool Customer Support Links

Posted by dougb Aug 30, 2010

I know a lot of you look around the Intel® customer support site quite a bit, but just in case you haven’t, here are a couple really cool links that you might not have known about.

Added Feature list for each software release going WAY back

Driver revisions going back a couple of releases

What SFP+ modules and cables can I use with my x520 adapter?

How do I troubleshoot PXE using a network protocol analyzer?

If you have a favorite, put it into the comments section for everyone to share!

This article is a first for Wired Intel® Ethernet.  This will have links that most of you can’t access.  But it’s okay.  This article is aimed at BIOS writers, and I’ll try to make it so everyone can learn a little bit.  If you’re a BIOS developer, head to the second paragraph.  The next block is to bring everyone else up to speed, so those that write the BIOS please join us back for the second part.  The third paragraph explains why a lot of people won’t be able to get to it.

Basic Input and Output System (BIOS) is the first thing that runs on your computer.  Without it nothing else happens.  If your BIOS is bad, your system is a very expensive paperweight.  The BIOS is the very complex foundation of your system.  And without a good foundation, the rest of the house, the operating system, can’t stand.  Ethernet as a device built onto the motherboard is called LAN on Motherboard, or LOM.  Too often the BIOS is built without thinking about the considerations of the LOM, and that part of the foundation fails.  But for the diligent BIOS developer, how do they figure out what the Wired Intel® Ethernet stuff requires?

Here at the Wired Ethernet labs, we’ve finally come up with a set of documents to help. A complete solution is a top to bottom solution, and this documentation effort recognizes that our once haphazard BIOS help wasn’t cutting it.  You might have heard it by the “BIOS College” moniker in some of our hands on training labs, we’ve released it to CDI so you can review it and make sure that your BIOS is aware of LOM issues.  We have documents for iSCSI, UEFI and Option ROMs.  Plus hardware specific guidance as appropriate.  Start with the Checklist doc and it has links to the other pieces of content.  This is a live document, so it will get more stuff over time, so read it often!

Because BIOS settings are fundamental to normal system operation, we’ve placed this documentation in our secure documentation library called CDI.   You can search for Intel® Ethernet Network Connections – BIOS Documentation / HLD in the search box to find it, or you can click on the link provided.  If that sentence didn’t make any sense and you write BIOS for a living, contact your Intel representative to get a copy.  And tell them the blog sent you.

Review!

1)  The Wired Intel® Ethernet team has guidance for BIOS writers

2)  This doc is located in our secure doc area

3)  Thanks for using Wired Intel® Ethernet.

Here are five quick questions with Joel an Intel® participant at the University of New Hampshire(UNH) Fibre Channel Industry Association (FCIA) show earlier in the year:

1)      Question who are you and what do you do?
My name is Joel and I do Windows* FCoE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) validation lead work.

2)      What is the big difference between Windows FCoE and Linux* FCoE?
Besides one being open source and the other not, Windows, in general, has more external components to interface with so our design reflects that.  For an end user, you won’t see the extra work if we’ve done our job right, and this plugfest is helping to prove it all works.  With our Windows offering we also have to integrate with the PROSet® GUI, while Linux is just command line.  With Linux you’ll get FCoE, typically as part of your distro, while with Windows we have to do a bunch of install work, since it will only come from Intel media.  We do talk between teams quite a bit and during this show I was driving the Linux console as much as the Windows one. 

3)      What’s the best part about this type of event?
Besides the social events at the brew pub?  The chance to work with other industry leaders during the development of this cutting edge technology.  We are really at the front of an exciting transition and seeing all of our hard work paying off and resulting in highly compatible software.  Did I mention UNH provides some really great food for us?

4)      What’s your least favorite part of the show?
Sometimes things don’t work, and some of the testing we do requires highly structured setups that means there is some hurry up and wait time.

5)      What drew you to FCoE work?
I’ve always been drawn to cutting edge work and I’m excited to be working on a technology that will actually end up shipping!  I started with DCB and just naturally moved over to FCoE since the two are so close together.  Since I had been doing Ethernet for so long, it was exciting to do storage work, and I look forward to keep helping to merge storage and Ethernet with more of a personal focus on the storage part.

A while ago I was in beautiful New Hampshire with a bunch of FCoE vendors.  Here had assembled a motley bunch, all into one big room with one goal:  To make FCoE work as well as possible.  A true showing of professionalism reigned, with all bad attitudes and thoughts of competition left in the lobby.  This was the time for working together so end users could have confidence that no matter what product they put into their infrastructure, it would play nice with the other vendors’ materials. 

Hosted at the University of New Hampshire’s Interop Lab near Durham, NH, a wide variety of vendors of FC, FCoE and FCoE related materials came together under the auspices of the Fibre Channel Industry Association to see how things played together.   And as the show wrapped up, the results for Intel adapters were pretty good.  We were able to complete most of our testing without issues on our end, both hardware and software.  I’m not going to name names on who was at the show, that’s up to each vendor to decide, but there were at least a dozen companies present.  Some brought one representative and one piece of equipment, some brought more.  One brought a dozen pieces of equipment and two people, one company brought six people.   Enough of the ‘who’ and the ‘why’, let’s talk ‘what’.

A typical test run environment would include a target vendor, a switch vendor and an initiator vendor.  The test itself would consist of trying to run five minutes in each of the test modes:  read mode, write mode and mix mode.  The test would exercise the discovery code (Can the target see the initiator’s request?), runtime code, and then recovery.  The recovery test validated the case where, if link went away, could it come back and do traffic again?   The testing itself sounds pretty easy on the surface, but in practice the logistics are what makes it difficult.  The cabling alone can trip up the whole event. 

Intel goes to shows like this fairly often, with this being our third visit to Durham for FCoE alone.  And until FCoE becomes as ubiquitous as Ethernet in general, we’ll keep coming to the event to make sure we’ve done all we can to make sure our products are as interoperable as possible. One day it will be just a checkbox when you make your purchase of Intel® Ethernet-based FCoE solutions.

Review!

1)      Intel tests with a variety of cutting edge technologies and partners as part of our commitment to quality.

2)      This level of testing helps you know your Intel® Ethernet will work with other FCoE vendors.

3)      Thanks for using Wired Intel® Ethernet products.

After the VMDQ video, I bet a bunch of you are wondering if this is just slide-ware.  If you haven’t watched the first one, you’re still covered.  Patrick brings everyone up to speed then shows it running. 

If you listen closely while he’s doing the demo, you can hear him typing.  No smoke and mirrors here!

dougb

What is a PCN?

Posted by dougb Aug 4, 2010

Acronyms are handy things.  They take long names or concepts and shorten them to easy to use quick links.    The bad news is not everyone knows what a given acronym means. Like PCN.

In our case, PCN stands for Product Change Notification.   Now nobody necessarily likes it, but even after a product is launched, it can change.  A supplier might change a sub-component, there might be a legal issue like new labeling requirements or even something as mild as a change in the OUI could trigger a product change.  You could visit the Intel® Quality Document Management System (QDMS) system regularly, or you could have it show up in your inbox.

Yes much like pizza, you can get PCNs delivered.  Once you register you can select which product types you will get information on, and you can even select which type of key characteristic changes will trigger you getting notified.  There’s even a field for product discontinuance.   I get them delivered into my inbox and I work with these products day in and day out.  I find out about stuff that I had no idea about, like our recent label change for an European Union label update.

If that link doesn’t work for you, you’ll need to register.  But once registered it can show up in your inbox like it did for me.

You know we try to end with a review!

1)      Intel is committed to keeping our customers informed about product changes

2)      You can get these product changes in your inbox

3)      Thanks for using Wire Intel® Ethernet.

 

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