Wednesday, April 11, 2007

More shoes to drop for TOEs

Storage networking pioneer Larry Boucher is wiggling his TOEs today. Larry makes the point that--in the midst of all the recent hubbub about Fibre Channel over Ethernet and planned enhancements to Ethernet--a good TCP offload engine still offers the best bet for data center storage.

Alacritech, Larry's startup that invented TOE, claims its four-port Gbit Ethernet cards deliver 100,000 IOPS, as much as some 4 Gbit Fibre Channel cards. He says the proof will be in the pudding as reviewers begin comparison tests of Alacritech cards under Microsoft's TCP Chimney and competing Fibre Channel options.

We shall see. Alacritech rolled out today some updated cards and software. But it remains to be seen how the TOE issue will shake out between Alacritech's partial offload style, the RDMA Consortium's full offload approach which has the backing of a broader group of OEMs and chip makers and the emerging multi-core approaches such as Intel's IOAT and Sun's Neptune that claim to eliminate the need for TOEs altogether.

Excuse the bad pun, but there are a lot of shoes left to drop on this issue.

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