Intel at IDF this week is talking about a new technology that will allow systems using PCI Express to take on a different approach when it comes to hardware devices. Called Multi-Root I/O virtualized PCI Express, the technology introduces switching technology into the traditional PCIe pathway.
The technology is being introduced for high-density cluster systems, usually made up of a number of blade servers. Traditionally, each blade would have its own PCIe pathway and its own devices connected to it. If a cluster contained 10 blade servers, each server would have its own gigabit Ethernet device, its own InfiniBand device and its own fiber channel device. Using this topology, management becomes difficult because each technology is individualized into separate blades.
Using the Multi-Root switching technology, each blade server connects to the same PCIe interface, and each blade (a root) will receive its own virtualized PCIe hierarchy (virtual plane). Using this technology, every blade connected to the Multi-Root switch will be able to utilize the same technology and everything can be managed easily.
Intel says one of the best aspects of the new technology is that it requires no software upgrades or modifications to system BIOSes. Operating system and driver layers can also remain unmodified. Virtualized operating systems will also be able to utilize the new virtualized I/O Multi-Root PCIe technology.