Marvell leverages PCI Express in network controller

Marvell Semiconductor will announce at IDF this week a server network controller that takes advantage of PCI Express' multilane capability.

Marvell Semiconductor will announce and demonstrate at the Intel Developer Forum this week a server network controller that takes advantage of PCI Express' multilane capability for high-speed throughput.

The controller, based on a new Marvell server I/O chip called Yukon II, features two Gigabit Ethernet ports to link the server to the LAN and talks to the server using a 4-lane PCI Express interface. PCI Express, which is replacing peripheral component interconnect (PCI) as the next-generation server I/O bus, can have as many as 16 sets of wires, or "lanes," to support bandwidth as great as 16Gbps.

Marvell claims the Yukon II-based adapter can support bidirectional bandwidth (combined input and output) of 3.7Gbps.

This represented a sizable gain over the 2.8Gbps delivered by a two-port Gigabit Ethernet adapter with an interface using the existing PCI-X technology, product marketing manager at Marvell, Ali Khan, said.

The Yukon II uses a new form factor developed by the PCI Special Interest Group, called Server I/O Module (SIOM), that allowed a network controller to be swapped out of a running server without the chassis being opened, Khan said.

In late December, Marvell began supplying Yukon II-based adapters to Gateway and NEC for use in several servers, and SysKonnect, a division of Marvell parent company, Marvell Technology Group, is offering a branded adapter that used the chip, Khan said.

The company would not disclose pricing.

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