A Good Time with Schweitzer

Posted on by Brantley Coile

It's not often that I do a guest shot on a podcast, but when Scott Schweitzer asked, I had to say yes. Coraid had one of the first 10GbE storage arrays, and it was partly due to the help Scott Schweitzer gave us all the way back in 2007.

At LinuxWorld that same year,I visited all the booths that had the brand new 10 Gb Ethernet wares. I checked out several, and settled on the one that looked the simplest. That's a thing with me. It needs to be simple.

Scott was then working for a company called Myricom, makers of a Myrinet, which was at one time a big deal in the high performance computing world.

We needed to give our customers a way to talk to us over very fast Ethernet, and Myricom had just come out with their version of Myrinet that was Ethernet compatible. They had a head start on a lot of the other vendors because they already had a 10Gb Myrinet running before 10 Gb Ethernet was a standard.

Scott visited us here in beautiful Athens, GA, and I explained to him that we were different than any of his other customers. We used as our base operating system the last OS work from the inventors of Unix and C, AT&T Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ. This would mean that we needed information that was a bit deeper than what he usually gave customers. A Linux driver, even though it was in source, wasn't enough information.

I don't know if Scott thought I was some kind of nut at first, but soon after he arrived, he seemed to get what we were doing and even got pretty excited about it.

He made introductions with me to the developers of their NIC silicon, and a very fruitful and efficient exchange of information transpired over a very short amount of time.

The result was a driver and a product, long before most vendors had 10 GbE. We sold a good number of Myricom 10GbE.

Eventually, Intel got into this space and we were forced to switch to them for economic reasons. They weren't as neat, but they weren't too bad. Scott now works for Solarflare. Who knows. Maybe we'll offer their NICs for higher storage performance.

The reason all this mattered was that our storage protocol was just getting started back in 2007. Our first ATA-over-Ethernet products dated all the way back to 2004.

ATA-over-Ethernet is a very streamlined protocol that uses raw Ethernet - no IP, no TCP, no ACKs, just AoE requests and AoE responses.

Our protocol really made 10GbE fly! Today, our host initiator can saturate a couple of 10GbE links. That's more than 2GB a second directed to our storage. Scott was very helpful in our achieving that kind of performance that early on.

You can listen to our conversation HERE and hear Scott and I discuss the current Intel processor Spectre and Meltdown exploits.

It was great, talking with an old friend.

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