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Use of Network Interface Card in 10G/25G/40G Server to Switch Connections

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Posted on December 30, 2019
October 30, 2020
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Network interface card (NIC), providing network connection, is an indispensable hardware component for any network. Especially for the enterprise or data center users, the use of network interface card has been multifarious. There are NIC cards with diverse port counts, data rates, or even different transmission media. Do you know what type a NIC card can be used for what situation?

Why Consider the Use of Network Interface Card?

The use of network card is closely related to the function of NIC. Physically, a NIC, no matter as a built-in or add-in card, can provide the hardware interface between network devices (like computers and servers) and a network. Whether the NIC network is a wired or wireless one, the network communication can both be delivered. Besides, communications between terminal devices connected via local area network (LAN) as well as communications over a large-scale network through Internet protocol (IP) can be realized via the use of NIC cards. As a device existed in both physical layer and data link layer, NIC delivers a hardware circuitry so that the processes in the physical layer and data link layer can run on it. To know more details about NIC, you can read this post: What Is a Network Interface Card - NIC Definition, Function & Types.

How to Use 10Gb/25Gb/40Gb NIC Card?

In a different networking environment, NIC solutions are also varied. In this part, we will take the commonly used 10GbE, 25GbE, and 40GbE NICs as cases to explore their network applications.

10GBASE-T NIC Card Application

This is a basic 10G copper NIC network. There are two 10GBASE-T switches connected with four hosts via 10G copper links separately. Double 40G links between the two switches formed to realize MLAG (Multi-Chassis Link Aggregation Group) with each other to improve the network bandwidth and reliability. In this topology, a dual-port 10GBASE-T NIC is needed for each host to deliver two 10G links. Comparing with the connection via transceivers and optical cables, 10Gb copper NIC together with network cables will be a cost-saving solution. But this connection only applies for devices that can support 10GBASE-T and the transmission distance is no longer than 100 meters.

Figure 1: Use of network interface card-10GBASE-T NIC

The product list for this 10GBASE-T NIC card application can refer to the following table:

ID Number Description Qty (pcs)
69378 S5850-48T4Q Switch (48*10GBase-T and 4*40Gb QSFP+ Ports) 2
17931 40GBASE-SR4 QSFP+ Transceiver Module 4
74279 MTP Trunk Cable (OM4) 2
75601 Dual-Port 10GBase-T Network Interface Card 4
66789 Cat6a Network Patch Cable 8

10G SFP+ NIC Card Application

Similar to the above 10G copper network, there are two switches stacking with each other to simplify network management and improve network flexibility in this two-layer network. Coming with 24 SFP+ ports, these two switches can support 10G fiber downlinks with each host. In this host-to-switch connection case, four 10G fiber NICs are needed. Based on different needs, users can choose 10G dual-port or quad-port network cards. For quad-port 10Gb NICs, two vacant slots for each NIC can be used for redundancy or future expansion. When in long-distance transmission, the combined solution of SFP+ NIC, SFP+ transceivers, and optical cables for host-to-switch connections will be suitable. As for a short-distance transmission within 10 meters, the SFP+ NIC with 10G DAC cables will be more economical for users.

Figure 2: Use of network interface card-10G SFP+ NIC

The product list for this 10G host to switch connection can refer to the following table:

ID Number Description Qty (pcs)
73467 S5900-24S4T2Q Switch (24*10Gb, 4*Gigabit RJ45 and 2*40Gb Ports) 2
17931 40GBASE-SR4 QSFP+ Transceiver Module 4
74279 MTP Trunk Cable (OM4) 2
75600/75602 Dual/Quad-Port 10G SFP+ Network Interface Card 4
74386 OM3 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable 8
11589 10GBASE-SR SFP+ Transceiver Module 16

25G NIC Card Application

In this NIC network, there are two 25Gb data center switches (with 6*100G uplink ports) connected with four servers separately, doing MLAG with each other. Similar to the above 10G NIC card application, each server-to-switch 25G connection can be realized in two ways. For long-distance transmission, 25G NIC, SFP28, and fiber optic patch cables can be applied. As for short-distance transmission within 5 meters, 25G NIC and SFP28 DAC cables can be used. To know more about why you need to apply 25G NIC and how to choose it, you can read this post for details: 25G NIC - the Highly Effective Path Towards 100G Network.

Figure 3: Use of network interface card-25G NIC

The product list for this 25G server to switch connection can refer to the following table:

ID Number Description Qty (pcs)
75876 N8500-48B6C Switch (48*25Gb and 6*100Gb Ports) 2
73997 RS-7188 2U, 2-Socket Rack Server 4
74372 OM4 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable 8
75603 Dual-Port 25 Gigabit SFP28 Network Interface Card 4
35182 100GBASE-SR4 QSFP28 Transceiver Module 4
68017 MTP Trunk Cable (OM4) 2
67973 25GBASE-SR SFP28 Transceiver Module 16

40GbE NIC Card Application

In this 40G spine-leaf network, two 40Gb spine switches, deploying with MLAG, both connected with a 40G switch in the leaf layer. And the leaf switch is connected with a server for 40G transmission. To realize a 40G deliver between a leaf switch and a server, the 40GbE NIC should be used. A 40G QSFP+ transceiver and fiber optical cable together with 40GbE NIC can be used for long-distance 40G transmission. Short-distance delivery within 7 meters can be realized by 40GbE NIC with QSFP+ DAC cable.

Figure 4: Use of network interface card-40GbE NIC

The product list for this 40G server to switch connection can refer to the following table:

ID Number Description Qty (pcs)
69342 N8000-32Q Switch (32*40Gb Ports) 3
17931 40GBASE-SR4 QSFP+ Transceiver Module 12
73997 RS-7188 2U, 2-Socket Rack Server 1
75604 Dual-Port 40 Gigabit QSFP+ Network Interface Card 1
74279 MTP Trunk Cable (OM4) 7

Conclusion

Based on the users’ network environment and needs, the use of network interface cards can be flexible. According to the transmission media of the link, you can use a copper or optical NIC. Single-port NIC or multi-port NIC can be chosen to meet the connection numbers and the need for network redundancy and future expansion. NICs with different data rates can also be used for different bandwidth needs. FS can provide reliable NIC network designs and a wide range of 10GbE/25GbE/40GbE NIC solutions with different port counts, transmission media, data rates and functions for your choice.