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10 Gb Ethernet bodes well for iSCSI

With Dynamic TCP Offload added to 10 GbE adapters running iSCSI, users will see the benefits of removing TCP processing from the host computer and placing it on a dedicated HBA.

The advent of 10 Gbps Ethernet (10 GbE) bodes well for iSCSI. With Dynamic TCP Offload added to 10 Gbps adapters running iSCSI, users will see the benefits -- higher performance and access -- of removing TCP processing from the host computer and placing it on a dedicated host bus adapter (HBA) from vendors such as Alacritech Inc., Neterion Inc. and NetXen Inc. Dynamic TCP Offload takes advantage of Microsoft Corp.'s TCP Chimney Offload technology that offloads the TCP stack to the network card.

According to the Stamford, Conn.-based market research group Gartner Inc., iSCSI is expected to be a $2 billion market by 2010. In addition, Framingham, Mass.-based IDC estimates that from now through 2010, iSCSI storage-area networks (SANs) will show a compound annual growth rate of 74.8% for worldwide revenue vs. 4.1% for Fibre Channel (FC). IDC also claims the iSCSI protocol will capture more than 10% of storage systems revenue and an even greater percentage of capacity by 2008.

Jim Bollinger, systems and network engineer at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., installed Overland Storage Inc.'s REO disk-based appliances to back up his storage environment. Bollinger, who uses QLogic Corp. HBAs that perform both TCP and iSCSI offload, said he'll migrate to 10 Gbps Ethernet for the trunks between university buildings.

"iSCSI has been capable of doing everything we need it to do," Bollinger said. "You could take iometer.exe and take the array right up to 100 Mbps. It's every bit as good as local SCSI and sometimes better. We've had no trouble on big files filling the pipe on our LTO-3 backup -- up around 70 MBps to 80 MBps -- and we've been backing up 7 TB to 8 TB a day."

For Mark Kash, IT specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntington, W.Va., 10 Gbps is also on the agenda. "10 Gbps to 100 Gbps is in our planning process and further validates our decision to deploy iSCSI," Kash said. "I'm comfortable that iSCSI is going to take over from Fibre Channel, and [that] it will no longer be considered a low-cost, lower performing alternative."

Material used for this article originally appeared in Storage magazine.

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