Intel announces new Ethernet controller for virtual infrastructures

Quoting from the Intel official announcement:

Intel Corporation today announced two new Ethernet controllers that facilitate high traffic flow and optimize I/O performance in such enterprise server environments as multicore Intel Xeon processor-based systems and virtualized datacenters.

The Intel 82598 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller provides energy-efficient, dual-port, PCI Express-based 10GbE connectivity to handle high-speed interconnects. This product addresses the networking bottlenecks associated with server consolidation and is ideal for virtualization and such demanding enterprise applications as storage and high performance computing.

…Intel 82598 10 Gigabit Ethernet Controller will be available for volume shipment in September…

More details about these features are available in May 2007 issue of Intel Magazine:

Intel’s VMDq (Virtual Machine Device Queues) technology in the NIC provides multiple hardware queues and offload features that can be used to reduce the software overheads associated with sharing a single networking device between multiple VMs. Traditionally a software switch within the I/O partition which abstracts the hardware capabilities to the guest operating systems in the VMs processes the packets one at a time, sorting, classifying, and delivering the networking packets from the device to the different VMs. This introduces overheads in the transmit and receive speed paths and hence severely impacts I/O performance. By associating individual hardware queues of the NIC to specific VMs, and sorting and grouping the received packets into the VMs designated queues, these software overheads can be reduced. The enhancements in the NIC hardware also include support for transmit fairness to avoid head-of-line blocking between the VMs…

CPUs purchase is already driven by presence of virtualization enhancements (Intel VT or AMD SVM). As soon as other hardware equipment will be able to simplify virtualization tasks, it will be preferred over traditional gears.

But Intel effort in the space is not surprising just because of that: earlier this month the company announced upcoming motherboards capable to handle virtual to virtual (V2V) migrations, and so far heavily invested in multiple virtualization companies: