Twinville is Intel’s next-generation 10GBASE-T product, originally shown for the first time at the Intel Developer Forum last September. It will be the industry’s first single-chip, fully integrated, dual-port 10GBASE-T controller. Why does that matter? Because until now, 10GBASE-T designs have included at least two chips and a myriad of support components. This single-chip design will allow 10GBASE-T solutions to finally be small, cheap, and power-efficient enough to be integrated onto server motherboards. Expect this to happen in 2011.
Let’s take it a step further. Why do we specifically need 10GBASE-T? Because today, if you want to go faster than gigabit Ethernet, 10GBASE-T offers the easiest upgrade path. Other flavors of 10GbE and different network fabrics require major infrastructure changes (new switches, cabling, and so on). 10GBASE-T’s backward compatibility with existing GbE networks means you can install 10GbE adapters that will work with your existing equipment, and when you’re ready to upgrade switches and cabling, the move is easy and seamless. In fact, the transition is so smooth that the Dell’Oro Group predicts 10GBASE-T port shipments will grow from 5 million units in 2011 to more than 25 million by 2014.
By the time 10GbE becomes that prominent, the world will start to need terabit Ethernet switches, and we’ll be repeating the same situation we have today with another zero added to each number. Fortunately, the just-released 40GbE and 100GbE standards will help ease the transition.