Yesterday morning, during Bob Muglia’s keynote address to WinHEC 2006, we officially launched the Scalable Networking Pack for Windows Server 2003! 

The Scalable Networking Pack introduces a number of architectural innovations to Windows Server 2003 (SP1 or later) that enables support for the next generation of network acceleration and hardware-based offload technologies.

In a nutshell, we’re talking about reducing the CPU overhead associated to networking by offloading this processing to a specialize network adapter.  Similar to how the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) helped usher in the age of offloaded graphics processing and increased 3D computer graphics performance, Scalable Networking Pack enhancements will be doing the same for network I/O processing.

Included in the “Pack”, which is available today for download at no cost, are three new technologies:

  • TCP Chimney Offload – providing seamlessly integrated support for network adapters with TCP Offload Engines (TOE)
  • Receive-side Scaling – dynamically balances inbound network connections to share traffic load across multiple processors or cores
  • NetDMA – enables support for advanced direct memory access technologies, such as Intel I/O Acceleration Technology (Intel I/OAT)

Each of these enhancements work in concert with compatible network adapters to deliver cost-effective scalability, performance and network throughput gains for Windows Server 2003.  Part of the great news about yesterday’s announcement, is the large (and growing — thanks to making the announcement at WinHEC!) ecosystem of hardware partners offering support today and in the near future for Scalable Networking innovations.  

Lastly, the Scalable Networking Pack is just the first release of our Scalable Networking initiative which is focused on reducing operating system bottlenecks related to network packet processing and enabling support for the latest and greatest network acceleration technologies in Windows, without requiring costly changes to existing applications or network configurations.  Scalable Networking technologies will be included in both Windows Vista and Windows Server “Longhorn”, with more planned for post-Longhorn. 

Stay tuned to our new Scalable Networking TechNet site for more information on what was announced yesterday and to learn more about what’s in store for future release of Windows.

Ian Hameroff
Sr. Product Manager
Windows Server Platform Networking