Mellanox shows off 56Gb Ethernet cards

MWC 2014: Why? Because we can, that’s why

Mellanox logoMellanox was showing a very interesting networking card to SemiAccurate at MWC, one capable of 56Gb Ethernet. If you are scratching your head wondering when 56GbE became a standard, you didn’t miss anything yet.

The cards shown off by Mellanox are a dual port 10GbE on the right and a dual port 56Gb FDR Infiniband on the left. No points if you figured out where this is going already. That card also does two lanes of 10 and 40GbE as well, likely for the high latency buffs out there. In short this card has a lot of bandwidth.

Mellanox 10GbE and 56GbE cards

Infiniband, Ethernet, and an odd number, all in two cards

Since the Infiniband card can push 56Gbps reliably over IB and deployments of >10Gbps anything usually has a single vendor at the card and switch side, the genesis of 56GbE was simple. In short someone at Mellanox said, “why the heck not” et voila, 56GbE was born. This isn’t a standard, it is unlikely to ever be a standard, not to mention one between 40Gbps and 100GBps is mostly pointless.

All that said, if you have Mellanox cards and Mellanox switches because you actually need 40GbE throughput, why not change a setting and potentially get 40% more bandwidth for free? The short answer is cabling, but at 40Gbps you are either on fiber or a masochist, and either way going to 56Gbps will make your life better. This card is easily one of the best pieces of connect-the-obvious-dots engineering SemiAccurate has seen in a long time.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate