"In the long run 10GBase-T will take off," said Wheeler. "The difference with this transition is it requires the latest process technology to get power and cost down, and that wasn't the case in previous generations of Ethernet," he added.
Tolley noted that Cisco Systems and startup Arista Networks are both showing 10GBase-T switches. On the server side, "we are engaged in probably two dozen requests for proposals right now and expect designs to start popping in next 90-180 days," he said.
Solarflare expects its chips to enable $500 dual-port network cards that dissipate less than 16W. They will deliver latency as low as five microseconds, near the two microsecond level of Infiniband.
The company is charging $999 for evaluation kits that include full adapter cards with software drivers. The cards support key 10G software such as Chimney in Microsoft's Windows Server and NetQue and VMQ from VMware's virtualization software.
Some vendors, including Cisco, believe the consolidation of Fibre Channel and Ethernet networks in Fibre Channel over Ethernet will drive the 10G transition. But Tolley said he doesn't believe FCoE will take off until Microsoft supports the technology natively in its operating system, something some don't expect for at least a year.
FCoE and 10G Ethernet "will compete directly, but we think its 2012 before we get there," said Wheeler.