While you can now buy 10GBase-T server NICs - in theory at least - Chelsio's president and CEO Kianoosh Naghshineh acknowledges that there's not a lot to plug the other end of your 10GBase-T cable into as yet.

He said he expects compatible switches to reach the market by March though, and adds: "The other significant factor is that our cards are dual-speed and auto-negotiating, so you can also use them with a Gigabit switch. That decouples the server upgrade from the infrastructure upgrade. Over time we'll probably go to triple-speed, with 100Gig as well."

The new cards are also intended to be triple-function, in particular the iSCSI-capable S310 models. The aim is to converge server, storage and processor networking onto a single medium, namely 10Gig Ethernet.

"Data centres today typically have three networks - LAN, SAN and high-performance computing," says Naghshineh. "The vision of a single network has been sought after for several years. You will see people convert from Fibre Channel to Ethernet, and from InfiniBand and Myrinet to Ethernet - the benefits of the converged model include ROI and TCO."

There is still work to be done, of course. Naghshineh says that putting the various network protocols into hardware has solved many of the former issues, such as Ethernet having higher latency than the likes of InfiniBand, but he acknowledges that power consumption is still a concern - as is pricing.

"In technical HPC (high performance computing), InfiniBand has a lot of traction, there's many nodes but they're cheap nodes," he says. "On storage, as long as you replace Fibre Channel that's all you have to do. Fibre Channel is still expensive because it doesn't have the scale of Ethernet."