SAN JOSE, Calif. With its latest 10 Gbit/second chip, Chelsio Communications Inc. aims to push ahead of a pack of competitors seeking design wins in data center systems expected to converge networking, storage and clustering functions on to Ethernet. The four-port T4 is the company's first to support Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and new virtualization features.
Chelsio claims the T4 is the first chip to support in one device four key protocols including FCoE, iSCSI and TCP offload. It also includes an embedded switch to support the PCI Express standard for I/O virtualization. The switch can manage traffic among as many as 128 virtual machines in a single server.
"The problem has been that most 10 Gbit Ethernet chips are optimized for only one protocol," said Bob Wheeler, principal analyst at market watcher The Linley Group.
By contrast, the T4 "supports the latest protocol offloads in combination with the latest virtualization features," said Wheeler. "The major challenge for Chelsio is qualifying its FCoE software stack to compete with the proven stacks from QLogic and Emulex," he added.
Chelsio also reduced latency on the T4 to two microseconds for both RDMA and UDP protocols. It hopes the chip will compete favorably with Infiniband parts for use in computer clusters.
The 65 nm chip measures 27x27mm and consumes seven to 10 W average. It will sample before July. A paper describing the chip is available online.
"From here I think we will be focused on 40 and 100 Gbit Ethernet," said Kianoosh Naghshineh, chief executive of Chelsio (Sunnyvale, Calif.). "Those transitions will be faster than 10G was because the physical layer technology is not changing--it is using four and ten 10G channels," he said.
"There will also be cost reductions and a latency road map to a sub-microsecond solution," Naghshineh said of his future plans.
At conferences in February, engineers said they are hard at work on the first generation of 40 and 100G Ethernet chips as well as 25G serdes, driven by demand from carriers.
"Mellanox already supports 40 Gbit links on its ConnectX-2 silicon, which also supports quad-data-rate InfiniBand," said Wheeler. "But line-rate 40Gbit links will require PCIe Gen3 on the server platform," he added.
Naghshineh said Chelsio had 2009 revenues of $23 million, based in part on sales of about 65,000 of its T3 chips. It expects revenues of as much as $40 million this year. Profitability is "days away," he added.
The company does not anticipate raising any more venture capital and is not seeking either an acquisition or a public offering, he said.