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Re: The ultimate TOE design

To: netdev@xxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: The ultimate TOE design
From: Wes Felter <wesley@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2004 16:03:57 -0500
Cc: linux-kernel@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
In-reply-to: <4148A561.5070401@xxxxxxxxxx>
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Neil Horman wrote:
Paul Jakma wrote:

On Wed, 15 Sep 2004, Jeff Garzik wrote:

Put simply, the "ultimate TOE card" would be a card with network ports, a generic CPU (arm, mips, whatever.), some RAM, and some flash. This card's "firmware" is the Linux kernel, configured to run as a _totally indepenent network node_, with IP address(es) all its own.

Then, your host system OS will communicate with the Linux kernel running on the card across the PCI bus, using IP packets (64K fixed MTU).

The intel IXP's are like the above, XScale+extra-bits host-on-a-PCI card running Linux. Or is that what you were referring to with "<cards exist> but they are all fairly expensive."?

IBM's PowerNP chip was also very simmilar (a powerpc core with lots of hardware assists for DMA and packet inspection in the extended register area). Don't know if they still sell it, but at one time I had heard they had booted linux on it.

An IXP or PowerNP wouldn't work for Jeff's idea. The IXP's XScale core and PowerNP's PowerPC core are way too slow to do any significant processing; they are intended for control tasks like updating the routing tables. All the work in the IXP or PowerNP is done by the microengines, which have weird, non-Linux-compatible architectures.

To do 10 Gbps Ethernet with Jeff's approach, wouldn't you need a 5-10 GHz processor on the card? Sounds expensive.

A 440GX or BCM1250 on a cheap PCI card would be fun to play with, though.

Wes Felter - wesley@xxxxxxxxxx - http://felter.org/wesley/


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