back to article Windows Server 2016 to inherit Azure's load balancer, data plane

Microsoft's drip … drip … drip of information about Windows Server 2016 has revealed a couple more droplets of detail, and one big splash of news about Redmond's approach to the new OS. The splash is that Azure is the wellspring of Microsoft's plans for your data centre. The whole cloud first thing is no mere mantra: Redmond …

  1. Robert Heffernan

    Why is it so exotic?

    It's not hard to stick an FPGA onto a card. PCI-E and Ethernet MACs are two blocks that are basic functionality that can be found on a lot of FPGAs. Putting a PHY and an RJ-45 connector with integrated magnetics, some DDR, flash and a PCI-E edge connector will be easy for just about any engineer at any half-competent PC peripheral company.

    Once you got that it's all down to the software and drivers to fill in the rest. There is no reason aside from support that Microsoft can't release the VHDL files and associated OS drivers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is it so exotic?

      I suspect it's exotic because of cost (vs benefit). It is, as you rightly point out, not exotic because of technology.

      How much does a decent server-class NIC cost these days (not how much does it sell for, that's unrelated)?

      Now look at how much an interesting FPGA developer board (that's what we're talking here, the technology itself is not exotic) costs. Take a bit off because the NIC won't need all the bits on the dev board. But unless you sell in serious quantity you can't afford to do your own design and might as well use something off the shelf: a suitably chosen dev board.

      The FPGA dev board *cost* is much higher than the server NIC cost. The FPGA *benefit* isn't financially interesting except in a few limited applications. Maybe some subset of Azure applications.

      The low latency traders and such are already doing FPGA without needing Azure (and I suspect frequently without needing Windows at the sharp end).

      Not sure where this is headed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is it so exotic?

      "Once you got that it's all down to the software and drivers to fill in the rest."

      One of the advantages of the Windows modular NDIS architecture is that this sort of stuff can just be inserted into the network stack layer to provide hardware acceleration such as TOE at each layer. A notable limitation of Linux at present is that there is no comparable modular network stack and that TOE hardware offload requires per manufacturer kernel hacks...This is also one of the reasons why when you benchmark high IO devices like 40Gbit adaptors, you usually get faster throughput on the same hardware under Windows.

  2. W. Anderson

    Maybe Microsoft could inherit some quality and reliability

    Too bad Windows Server 2016 or any Server version could not inherit an enterprise grade file system, like ZFS or btrfs from Nix community, to provide Microsoft with more competitive and worthwhile products.

    Not only is Hyper-V inferior to VMWare, but the Azure Cloud Computing services reliability is abysmal and lack any form of 'Docker' type containerization that is critical to modern Cloud Computing functions and efficiency.

    Maybe Microsoft could "buy" the Free/Open Source Software ecosystem to get great quality technology. :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe Microsoft could inherit some quality and reliability

      "Too bad Windows Server 2016 or any Server version could not inherit an enterprise grade file system, like ZFS or btrfs from Nix community, to provide Microsoft with more competitive and worthwhile products."

      NTFS + DFS is already pretty good and has many of the capabilities of say ZFS and was first with things like automated tiering and dedupe. However, what you want is already in production (ReFS) and this has a more capable and modern underlying design than ZFS / btrfs. However it is not yet feature complete - hopefully the 2016 Windows Server release will address that.

      "Not only is Hyper-V inferior to VMware"

      Not by much these days, and Hyper-V Server is completely free.

      "but the Azure Cloud Computing services reliability is abysmal and lack any form of 'Docker' type containerization that is critical to modern Cloud Computing functions and efficiency."

      Actually Azure has had fewer major outages than Amazon did in it's early days, and Azure has fully supported Docker for over a year now. The longer term strategic solution in this space in Windows Nano Server though, and native Windows Server and Hyper-V containers will be fully supported in Windows Server 2016

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maybe Microsoft could inherit some quality and reliability

        Not to mention that Microsoft are by far the largest code contributor to Docker in the last year or so...

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