Over the past 30 years of Ethernet we've seen at least five major generations. As each generation matures, typically around the third major wave of silicon, we invariably see quad-port adapters emerge on the market. Over the past six months each of the major 10GbE server adapter providers have offered quad-port cards. In the Four Reasons Why 10GbE NIC Design Matters I talked about the importance of design in Ethernet controller chips that produce features like: VNICs, Physical, and Virtual Functions. Below is a table of the primary quad-port 10GbE server adapter vendors. You can click the table to see or print a larger view.
It should also be noted that multi-chip quad-port 10G solutions due exist from tier-2 Ethernet server adapter vendors: ATTO, Silicom, SmallTree and Interface Masters. All of these products are designed around Intel's previous generation 82599 Ethernet controller or its low power variant. Most of these products were produced for the video editing market where directly attaching editing workstations to servers is popular. In this industry port density on the video editing servers is the primary concern, with price, and performance trailing. These adapters run anywhere from $1,100 to $1,700, double the price of those in the table above. One vendor even chose to violate the PCIe faceplate form factor spacing standards to produce a line of low-profile cards that only work in a select set of servers. This was done to support an appliance product, but they are also retailing them as Non-Conforming cards, so be careful.
So as you prepare for that future datacenter upgrade, now you know who the key players are in the dense 10G market. Please consider giving Solarflare an opportunity to earn your business. To request a Proof-of-Concept with the new SFN7004F please contact Solarflare.