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Emulex Connects To Linux

Red Hat and SUSE Linux On Board

  • August 9, 2004
  • By Rob Reilly

Connecting an application server to a corporate network, via a NIC, has its drawbacks. The main problem is that more than 50% of the server's CPU can be consumed processing small-block input/output.

An HBA (host bus adapter) can offload that I/O and return those lost CPU cycles to the task of processing transactions, by the server. It does this in three different ways:

  • The high performance microprocessors in the HBA manage the server's I/O.
  • The HBA controls DMA (direct memory access) of the data to the host server. This offloads that task from the server CPU.
  • Finally, the HBA can batch process CPU interrupts, instead of doing them one at a time.

Large scale, high speed transaction and storage processing I/O is what HBAs are all about. Typical transfer rates are in the neighborhood of 2 Gb/s.

Emulex, with an installed base of 1.6 million HBAs, recently announced that drivers for their line of HBA boards would be supported in future updates of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.

Although Emulex has been providing production drivers in the Linux environment for over three years, it is the first storage component vendor to obtain certification and support under both the Red Hat and SUSE versions.

"Emulex is the HBA market leader and providing support for Linux is critical to enabling our OEM customers, such as IBM, HP, EMC, Hitachi, NEC, to deploy server and storage solutions into data center environments utilizing the Linux OS", according to John Chevallier.

Chevallier, a 24-year IT industry veteran, is the Emulex Senior Product Manager in charge of facilitating Linux and UNIX operating system support for the company's family of Fibre Channel host bus adapters.

Since storage networking and transaction processing are such critical elements of a company's IT strategy, all three companies are betting that IT managers will standardize on Linux and Emulex based solutions.

"The collaborative work Emulex has done in concert with the Open Source community is an example of how companies can successfully share valuable expertise and resources with the Open Source community to enhance the functionality of products in Enterprise Linux environments", Deb Woods, Red Hat Vice President of Product Management, said in a recent statement. "We are extremely pleased with the quality of service this partnership brings to customers."

Clearly, the trend for hardware vendor support of Linux continues to grow.

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