It won’t be the star announcement of this week’s Intel Developer Forum, but it’s still noteworthy that Intel is trotting out hardware support for the Geneve encapsulation protocol.
Generic Network Virtualization Encapsulation (Geneve) is the peacemaking protocol drafted to unify VXLAN, NVGRE, and whatever other tunneling protocols emerge for network virtualization. Submitted to the IETF on Valentine’s Day this year, Geneve doesn’t exactly replace VXLAN and other protocols. Rather, it provides a common superset among them, so that outside software can provide hooks to Geneve rather than having to accommodate multiple encapsulation standards.
Now hardware support is arriving, just seven months after Geneve arrived. Network Heresy notes that the Intel XL710 network interface card, previously code-named Fortville, will include 40-Gb/s support for Geneve encapsulation. The “40 Gb/s” part is important because the main reason to use Geneve in hardware, rather than just a software implementation, would be for performance.
When Geneve came out, it was noted that x86 chips could support the protocol, so it’s not surprising that Intel already has hardware out. The unknown factor is how long it will take for switch chips — including Intel’s FM4000 series and the industry-leading Trident chips from Broadcom — to support Geneve in hardware.