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Supermicro AOC-S40G-iQ2 Review: A Low-Power 40GbE NIC

Supermicro AOC-S40G-iQ2 Review: A Low-Power 40GbE NIC
Supermicro taps Intel's new XL710 network controller to deliver high speed converged network technology with lower power than existing solutions.
By: Chris Ramseyer | Network Adapters in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Dec 5, 2014 6:06 pm
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Supermicro





The high-speed interconnect market is going through very exciting changes. While recent headlines promise 100Gbps connections (some companies are already shipping), it's important not to count out established technologies that are also going through changes.


We've talked a lot about 10GbE technology with product reviews on switches and network interface cards over the past two years. 10GbE deployment costs are shrinking. ASRock just announced the first workstation class motherboard with onboard 10GbE, a product that costs as much as a single 10GbE NIC did just a few months ago. Over the next year, we'll continue to see 10GbE prices slip, but that isn't the only exciting trend.


Intel recently released the company's successor to the X520 / X540 10GbE controller products. The new XL710 (40GbE) and X710 (10GbE) controllers use less power than the products they replace, and the XL710 40GbE controller uses less power than any other 40GbE card on the market today. This is big news for datacenters where power consumption from thousands of servers dominates Opex.


Supermicro is no stranger to datacenters, so it comes as no surprise that the company is among the first to release a product based on Intel's new XL710 network controller.



Specifications, Pricing and Availability




At the time of writing, Supermicro doesn't have an official product page for the AOC-S40G-iQ2 online, and channel availability is limited. This will change over time as the company ramps up production, and channel partners start to carry the new dual 40GbE NIC.


The specifications sheet covers the basics, but as you'll see, there is more to the Fortville controller than the initial specifications show.


Based on Intel's XL710 'Fortville' controller, the AOC-S40G-iQ2 is a PCIe 3.0 x8 (eight-lane) 40GbE network interface card with two QSFP+ ports. The card is half height and half length (HHHL) for use in tight environments. An assortment of standard features are listed on the specifications, such as iSCSI remote boot support, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet. Things get interesting when you get into the full feature list.


With an eye towards next generation datacenters, the Supermicro AOC-S40G-iQ2 supports technologies geared toward virtualization, like stateless offload VXLAN, NVGRE, and Geneve for overlay networks. These technologies now make it possible to distribute network traffic to many CPU cores.




For today's review, we'll use the Intel XL710 controller spec sheet for the full list of features.


The new features are nice, and will increase the density possible for virtual environments, but the greatest feature is the power consumption. The new Supermicro 40GbE NIC should use around 3.6 watts under typical workloads, and see peak power at just 4 watts. This is a large reduction from Intel's previous generation 10GbE network controllers that used around 14 watts for dual 10GbE.

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