Keeping ahead of competitors - and possibly user demand - Neterion has announced a version of its 10Gig Ethernet server adapter based on the emerging PCI Express standard.

The XFrame E network adapter will let users with big bandwidth needs move data between servers at speeds of up to 10Gbit/s over a fibre-based 10Gig Ethernet LAN connection, the vendor says. The product is targeted at such applications as network-attached storage devices, digital video editing machines and high-performance computing clusters.

Neterion, formerly known as S2IO, released its XFrame II 10Gig network interface card (NIC) in January, based on the PIC-X 2.0 server/PC bus standard. That NIC was the first product from S2IO that delivers a full 10Gbit/s of throughput, as past 10G NICs from the vendor topped out at about 6Gbit/s to 8Gbit/s because of limitations on how the card interfaced with PCI-X bus slots, Neterion says. Like the XFrame II, Neterion's new XFrame E allows for a full 10Gbit/s Ethernet interface.

The cards will support Linux, Unix and Windows.

The PCI-X 2.0 standard gives a computer an I/O rate of up to 4.26Gbyte/s (34Gbit/s). The PCI Express standard drives this I/O rate up to a maximum of 16Gbyte/s; this could allow for multi-port interfaces of 10G Ethernet, InfiniBand or other high-speed interconnect technologies.

Vendors with PCI Express 10G Ethernet adapters include Chelsio and Intel. However, these vendors' cards support a maximum of 6Gbit/s to 8G bit/s, according to Neterion. Myrinet, which makes high-speed interconnects for computer clusters, plans to have a PCI Express-based 10G Ethernet NIC available in the second quarter.

Any server NIC products coming out now are strictly for leading-edge users, says Gartner analyst James Opfer. These might include users of high-performance computing clusters - such as research laboratories or oil and gas exploration firms.

While server vendors are leaning toward PCI Express-based systems, Opfer says this high-speed bus architecture is also a way off: "You just don't put in a new bus architecture that's ten times faster overnight."

Neterion's XFrame E NICs will be available through the company's server vendor partners later this year.