Network specialist Napatech has added a new high-performance adapter to its line-up aimed at network appliances.
The latest model features in-line filtering capabilities, enabling applications such as firewall or intrusion prevention systems operating at full 10Gbit Ethernet speeds to be implemented on standard server hardware.
Announced at the Interop conference in Las Vegas this week and available immediately, Napatech's NT20E adapter is similar to the firm's current Capture line of adapters. The new model differs in that it fits in-line, sitting in the network so that it receives and retransmits packets, whereas the Capture adapters are designed to work in a tap-off mode for passive analysis of traffic.
Like Napatech's existing products, the NT20E is a TCP offload engine that fits into a PCI Express slot and offloads processing of internet packets from the main CPU. It is aimed at network appliance vendors that can deliver lower cost products to enterprise customers by using x86 system components instead of custom-built hardware.
"Monitoring and analysis is important to securing internet communications, but if you want to do that at today's network speeds of 10Gbit/s, you usually require dedicated solutions. We help the vendors to build more cost-effective solutions based on standard servers," explained Daniel Joseph Barry, Napatech vice president of marketing.
With a standard 10Gbit network adapter, a system is unlikely to achieve throughput higher than 5.5Gbit/s simply because of the burden of processing TCP/IP packets, according to Barry, hence the need for an offload engine like the NT20E.
"With this you get full line rate without dropping any packets, and it takes up less than one per cent of the host CPU capacity," he said.
The in-line capabilities of the NT20E open up new applications such as firewalls, Barry said, enabling a system to filter incoming traffic in real time and block packets from being retransmitted if necessary.
For enterprise customers, this has the knock-on effect of making network analysis more affordable, according to Napatech. When appliances can only handle 1Gbit speeds, filtering has to be done at the network edge, meaning that more devices have to be managed. With Napatech hardware, the same task can be handled by fewer devices sitting in the 10Gbit network core, Barry said.
The NT20E is initially available with Linux drivers, but FreeBSD and Windows will be available at a later date, along with a software suite for integration into an appliance vendor's software stack.
The system has twin 10Gbit Ethernet ports supporting multi-mode SR (850nm), single-mode LR (1310nm) or single-mode ER (1550nm) fibre optic connections.
As one of Napatech's top-of-the range adapters, the NT20E will cost about $9,900 (£6,500), but lower cost models are planned that will have four 1Gbit ports, Barry said.
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