Two networking rivals have each claimed to be the first to announce network interface cards (NICs) based on 10GBase-T, the new standard for 10Gig Ethernet over twisted pair copper.

Chelsio Communications said that its cards are sampling now, with customer shipments due in March, while Tehuti Networks said it will demo its 10Gig NIC at the BICSI 2007 cabling conference in Florida next week.

The Tehuti card is a reference design that's intended to sell its controller chips to mainstream NIC manufacturers, whereas Chelsio wants to sell both chips and NICs. Both use a 10GBase-T PHY - the chip that physically interfaces to the cable - from Teranetics.

Like Chelsio's earlier 10Gig fibre NICs, its two new cards feature the company's T3 chip which is capable of completely offloading protocols up to and including iSCSI. They are the S310e-BT for storage acceleration and the N310e-BT server NIC, and are priced the same as their SR fibre equivalents - that's $1995 and $1295 (£1012 and £657) respectively.

By comparison, the Tehuti chip provides partial hardware assistance that still makes use of the host server's TCP/IP stack, and is less power-hungry. Tehuti did not announce pricing for its 10GBase-T NIC reference design.

Both Tehuti and Chelsio will now look to drive their 10GBase-T chips to high volume as fast as possible, and Chelsio president & CEO Kianoosh Naghshineh predicted that other NIC vendors such as Neterion, Intel and NetXen would do the same.

"The premium goes away very rapidly now, otherwise you're struggling for ages like InfiniBand," he said. "Volumes are going to carry the day, that's the way it's going. From here, we've just got to press on the price."

Read more from our interview with Kianoosh Naghshineh here.