Break Through Ethernet Network Bottlenecks

Maximize network throughput with the right Ethernet upgrades.

Overcoming Ethernet Network Bottlenecks:

  • Maximize server performance—and IT investments—by upgrading to 10 Gigabit Ethernet or higher.

  • Optimize network data flow with features designed to support software-defined networking.

  • Ensure the best performance and compatibility with standards-based components.


Modernizing the data center is one of the most pressing issues facing server, storage, and network architects. When outdated components can’t keep up with today’s influx of data and applications, your service quality declines, causing frustration for end users and losses in productivity.

While it’s tempting to focus on processor performance as the answer to improving service quality, Ethernet bottlenecks are often the culprit of delays. In order to maximize the value of data center investments, server and network architects should consider upgrades to enhance Ethernet throughput and accelerate data flow.

Rising Demands on Ethernet Bandwidth

From servers to storage, data center technologies are becoming faster and more efficient. But existing Ethernet components may be lagging behind.

  1. Higher-performance servers: The latest processors, such as 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, deliver incredible performance compared with previous generations. But faster computing requires faster network throughput to feed the pipeline. That means you won’t get the most from server investments if older subsystems can’t keep up.
  2. More virtualization: Virtualizing systems and functions can be a very cost-efficient move, especially since it allows you to consolidate compute resources. At the same time, higher server density means greater demand on Ethernet bandwidth.
  3. Flash storage: Storage systems used to be a common bottleneck in data flow. Today, solid-state drives (SSDs) are capable of much faster access time compared with hard drives. This puts even more pressure on the network.

The Path to 10Gb Ethernet

With servers working faster than ever, an upgrade from Gigabit to 10Gb Ethernet can help prevent or resolve network bottlenecks. The 10GBASE-T standard simplifies this transition and is backward compatible with existing 1000BASE-T CAT-6A cable. Intel is the technology and market leader in 10GBASE-T network connectivity, offering a number of solutions that support this standard.

For network architects looking for higher-speed Ethernet over Cat 5e cabling, which is the most widely installed cabling in fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet access networks, 2.5GbE and 5GbE standards may be the best choice. This can help you avoid the costs of rewiring.

Upgrading Gigabit Ethernet Switches

The ethernet switch is another component that may benefit from an upgrade. An enterprise-class 10GbE switch can deliver fast enough speeds to overcome bottlenecks. But in some cases, architects are taking advantage of new IEEE standards and deploying 100GbE switches at the top of the server rack.

Whatever standard you choose, Intel® Ethernet Network Adapters can support multiport solutions for 25GbE, 50GbE, 100GbE, and beyond.

Optimized for Software-Defined Networking

Historically, network applications such as firewall and intrusion detection have been performed on stand-alone network devices. Now, software-defined networking means those network functions can be virtualized and consolidated, instead of being deployed on multiple appliances from different vendors. While this makes for a much more efficient data center, it also requires the network adapter to be aware of the protocols for each function.

Intel® Ethernet products are designed to accommodate new software-defined network functions. With Dynamic Device Personalization (DDP), packets are tagged with a specific class so that network adapters can optimize the flows for specific classes of network traffic. Application Device Queues (ADQ) dedicates hardware queues and shapes network traffic to ensure high-priority applications receive predictable performance. Both DDP and ADQ can help enhance network throughput and reduce latency.

Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) can also help break through network bottlenecks by allowing the network adapter to transfer data directly to and from application memory, bypassing the host. This can accelerate network functions and minimize TCP/IP memory copies and application context switching.

Internet Connection and Data Flow

In addition to solving for Ethernet bottlenecks, network architects should also check ISP ports and any access points for potential bottlenecks. This will ensure optimized data flow throughout the data center while ensuring you can take advantage of the fastest speeds your ISP can deliver.

Continuing Innovation in Ethernet Solutions

Our customers trust Intel® Ethernet Network Adapters, controllers, and accessories for their proven performance, cost efficiency, and compatibility. As data center technologies evolve, Intel continues to deliver solutions that ease the transition from 1 GbE to 10BASE-T, and then to 25GbE and beyond.

Intel is a market leader in the 10GBASE-T standard, which offers a simple transition to 10Gb Ethernet and is backward compatible with existing 1GbE cable.