A Gigabit Ethernet card that includes built-in data compression and encryption could be ideal for IP-based storage applications such as remote backup and data replication, its developer Hifn has claimed. 

The new Express DS4100 network card is based on an Intel 82576 Gigabit Ethernet controller, but Hifn has added its own FlowThrough silicon and firmware to handle standards-based link optimisation and security. It is also optimised for use in virtualised servers, said Hifn marketing VP Mike Goldgof.

He claimed the dual-port PCIe card is the first Gigabit adapter to deliver both compression and encryption with no added load on the host server. The inclusion of data compression, which is one of Hifn's specialities, is vital as it makes the card more cost effective than a standalone link encryption box, he added

"The two functions are related, so it's very important to do both," he said. "I think we've got a special recipe here in having all the functions of a network card that you need anyway, and then saving you money through compression and getting you compliant through security."

He claimed that the DS 4100 can reduce bandwidth requirements by 50 percent and slash remote replication and backup time. Its power consumption of 10W is a fraction of what would be needed to do the same tasks in standalone hardware appliances, he added.  

There have been 100Mbit/s Ethernet cards with built-in encryption before - Intel launched its PRO/100S almost ten years ago, for example - but Goldgof suggested that those had come to market too early. He said that with IP storage taking off and regulatory compliance demanding additional data security, things are very different now.

"We are leveraging some of the things happening in storage, especially with Ethernet storage and distributed storage infrastructures, and with people doing remote backup over WANs," he said. 

Priced at $395 (around £280) in volume, the DS4100 provides two full-duplex Gigabit Ethernet connections and implements standards such as IPsec, MacSec and AES for security, and LZS for compression, with a latency of 4.5microsec for small packets. Two versions are available, one with RJ45 ports for copper cabling and the other with SFP slots for optical modules. 

The DS4100 can interoperate with other network equipment that does standards-based encryption, but Goldgof said it is most effective when the two servers at each end of a WAN link both have a DS4100 installed, as then the connection is fully optimised. 

He added that the card also works as a standard non-encrypting network adapter, with security applied via policies. The DS4100 supports Linux, Windows 2003 and Wiindows 2008, and comes with an application that enables administrators to set up security policies.