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Networking gets better with Intel’s precision-timing flexibility

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 05/24/2022
Blog Category: cloud-and-data-centers

The next generation of precision timing adapters is here. The new Intel Ethernet Network Adapter E810-CQDA2T gives precision-timing customers more flexibility for their port configurations and the ability to lower costs…and some versions even have a hardware GPS chip.

Redundancy is important for 5G vRAN telecom providers, financial-services firms, power grid operators, and others who need high-accuracy timing for their workloads.

Such users typically utilize Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) such as GPS as primary or secondary clock sources. They often complement that with the IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) and Synchronous Ethernet (SyncE) across a network to provide resilient timing references.

In addition, these users value onboard timing holdover capabilities. They’re useful when satellite or network timing signals get interrupted.

Multiple configurations

The Intel Ethernet Network Adapter E810-CQDA2T is rated at 100 Gigabits/sec. and can be configured multiple ways for maximum flexibility:

> As a single 100Gbps link, with or without a redundant 100Gbps link

> As 8 ports of 10Gbps (with breakout cables)

> As 4 ports of 25Gbps

Flexibility is important to match the application requirements for speed. For telecom providers, a lot comes down to how many radios they have at the top of a cellular-network mast. The 100GbE Intel 800 Series Adapters provide the flexibility to be split many different ways using the Ethernet Port Configuration Tool (EPCT) to support these radio head configurations.

System builders can mix and match Intel’s new 100GbE E810-CQDA2T in the same server. To do this, they can use the Intel Ethernet Network Adapter E810-XXVDA4T, a quad-port adapter introduced earlier this year.

Both adapters use the same device drivers, and both support the Intel FlexRAN software commonly used in 5G networks. In other words, they’re compatible.

Cost savings onboard

The new E810 network adapters come in 2 versions:

> E810-CQDA2TGG1 combines a time synchronization GNSS board with an Ethernet adapter that fits in just 1 PCIe slot, instead of taking up 2 — an important advantage for space-constrained servers.

> E810-CQDA2TG1 can lower costs by cascading time signals between adapters. Coaxial SMA connectors on each card allow cascading timing signals between either adapters or systems, and without burning Ethernet ports for timing synchronization.

Go to market

The market for precision-timing servers and associated gear is specialized. As a result, the Intel Ethernet Network Adapter E810-CQDA2T is sold mainly by 2 groups: OEMs who white-label it with their own branding, and large distributors.

If you have customers looking for this type of Ethernet network adapter, be sure to ask for it by the product code.

And that “T” at the end of the product code? It’s short for “timing.”

Learn more:

> Intel Ethernet 800 Series Product Guide

> Explore more Ethernet from Intel


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