Monday, February 28, 2005

Intel Outlines I/O Acceleration Technology

Intel outlined a set of silicon technologies that speed the interaction between network data and server applications by up to 30%. Intel also announced an agreement with Microsoft to support the technology in forthcoming operating systems. The Intel I/O Acceleration Technology (I/OAC) takes a platform approach to address the application performance issues -- such as Web commerce, messaging, storage and server clustering, which are beginning to overwhelm servers' responsiveness.

Intel said that while server CPU performance and network bandwidth has improved over the years, the primary method for moving data has not changed. Today, the processor in a server shoulders the total burden of processing, accessing memory and making protocol computations on every piece of data or packet. As a result, much of the processor's operation is diverted and response time, reliability and the end-users' experience can suffer.

The Intel I/O Acceleration Technology would break up the data-handling job among all of the components that make up the platform -- the processor, chipset, network controller and software. This would reduce the workload on the processor while accelerating the flow of data. The chipset and network controller would be given responsibility for moving data in and out of memory.

Intel has also optimized the TCP/IP protocol for Intel-based servers, which cuts the processor's workload in half, further freeing it to work on other jobs.

Intel said this new platform approach would remedy inadequacies in existing technologies, such as TCP offload engines (TOE), designed to offload the processor of TCP/IP processing. TOE dedicates a specialized and costly chip to offload the protocol computation, but it does not fully address system overhead or memory access, the two largest burdens on the CPU. As a result, TOE is effective only when packets payloads are large, such as those in high-performance database and data-warehousing applications.

Microsoft will provide native support for Intel I/OAT in future Windows Server releases. Those releases also will include technology that balances network TCP/IP traffic streams across multi-core CPUs.


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