I am pleased to announce the release of an SDK update for the Intel® Ethernet Switch FM6000 Family that adds support for several advanced data center standards.


The key new features in SDK version 3.3.0 include better support for network virtualization, improved network reliability and precision time stamping for data center latency measurement.  Here are some more details about some of these new features:


VxLAN Support: Large cloud data centers are hosting virtual networks for each tenant and now need to support tens of thousands or more of these tenants. Traditionally, these tenants were logically separated using unique VLAN identifiers, but with only 4,096 VLANs available, new methods are needed. VxLAN is a new protocol championed by VMware* and Cisco* among others that provides encapsulation (tunneling) for millions of tenants while also providing increased virtual network flexibility.


Edge Virtual Bridging (EVB) Support using VEPA: Server virtualization is improving data center efficiency, but it needs the cooperation of the top-of-rack switch to properly interconnect all of the virtual machines using the same sets of rules that are used elsewhere in the network. The virtual Ethernet port aggregator (VEPA) standard utilizes the rich set of resources available in the Ethernet bridges attached to the servers to redirect all traffic (including local VM-to-VM traffic) to the correct attached bridge.


TRILL Support: One of the changes needed for Ethernet to really work in the data center was the replacement of the spanning tree protocol, which helped to ensure loop-free networks but did so by setting up redundant links that resulted in wasted bandwidth.  The successor protocol is called transparent interconnect of lots of links (TRILL), and gets around the limitations of spanning tree. It establishes loop-free multi-link connections between RBridges (TRILL-capable switches) using a special encapsulation protocol.


Time Stamping Support:  Time stamps can now be added to data packets within 10nS from when they ingress or egress the FM6000 switch. This allows attached FPGAs or CPUs to access information on precisely when packets enter or leave the switch. This can be used in applications such as IEEE 1588 precision time protocol, which can distribute master clock time signals throughout the network, or to measure latency within a data center network.


Technology standards are evolving rapidly to keep up with the needs of data centers. We want to stay ahead of the technology curve, and with this SDK update, the Intel Ethernet Switch FM6000 Family of switches offers one of the most comprehensive data center feature sets available.