Modern servers face several performance problems, but one that is a big headache is network slowdowns. The kinds of big production machines that run Solaris and Linux and whatnot running applications can often find that it is network traffic, not application code or database performance which causes many issues (although these things cause many hassles too!). Intel has been long aware of this, and is working on a solution.

Present solutions to the problems of network traffic include TOE cards or TCP/IP Offload Engines. TOE cards can plug into servers or storage systems and handle much of the network traffic, and are provided by companies such as Adaptec and Alacritech. Intel, however, wants to go even further.

Intel wants to build this technology into its server processor package, and will do this when it rolls out it's I/OAT (I/O Acceleration Technology) solution in due course.

Intel plans to sidestep the need for separate TOE cards by building this technology into its server processor package - the chip itself, chipset and network controller. This should reduce some of the time a processor typically spends waiting for memory to feed back information and improve overall application processing speeds.

Intel expects the technology to debut as a standard part of its server products in 2006. It will also have a tight storage component to the I/OAT project but won't say word one about what that storage component may be. Companies have typically tried to handle the TCP/IP stack problem with networked storage systems.