The following blog post was originally published on NetApp’s SANbytes blog to commemorate the launch of the NetApp X1120A-R6 10-BASE-T adapter – the latest milestone in the long and fruitful relationship between the companies. We’re reposting it here because it's a good overview of the state of the art in Ethernet storage networking.

 

When two leaders like Intel and NetApp work together on storage networking, the industry should expect big things. Intel® Xeon® processor-based storage systems from NetApp, for example, are delivering new levels of performance for customers around the world who are trying to keep up with the ever-increasing amounts of data generated by their users and applications. Intel and NetApp have also collaborated on many engineering efforts to improve performance of storage protocols including iSCSI and NFS.

 

This week’s announcement of the NetApp X1120A-R6 10GBASE-T adapter, which is based on the Intel® Ethernet Controller X540, is another significant development for Ethernet-based storage. Virtualization and converged data and storage networking have been key drivers of the migration to 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), and NetApp was an early adopter of the technology. Today, many applications are optimized for 10GbE. VMware vSphere, for example,
allows vMotion (live migration) events to use up to eight Gigabits of bandwidth and move up to eight virtual machines simultaneously. These actions rely on high-bandwidth connections to network storage systems.

 

10 Gigabit connectivity in these systems isn’t new, so why is the NetApp X1120A-R6 adapter special? For starters, it’s the first 10GBASE-T adapter supported by NetApp storage systems (including the FAS3200, FAS6200,
and the new FAS8000 lines), and we believe 10GBASE-T will have a huge appeal to data center managers who are looking to upgrade from one Gigabit Ethernet to a higher-speed network. 

 

There are a few key reasons for this:

 

  • 10GBASE-T allows IT to use their existing Category 6/6A twisted-pair copper cabling. And for new installations, this cabling is far more cost-effective than other options.
  • Distance flexibility: 10GBASE-T supports distances up to 100 meters and can be field-terminated, making it a great choice for short or long connections in the data center.
  • Backwards-compatibility: Support for one Gigabit Ethernet (1000GBASE-T) allows for easy, phased migrations to 10GbE.

The NetApp X1120A-R6 adapter gives data center operators a new option for cost-effective and flexible high-performance networking. For the first time, they’ll be able to use 10GBASE-T to connect from server to switch
to storage system.

 

Intel and NetApp have worked together to drive the market transition to 10GbE unified networking for many years, and this announcement is another example of our commitment to bringing these technologies to our customers.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of 10GBASE-T, here are a couple of great resources:

 

 

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