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Aquantia Brings NBase-T to PCs

June 13, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

Aquantia is entering the Ethernet-adapter market with its first network interface cards supporting the 802.3bz standard for 2.5GbE and 5GbE. The PCIe NICs are offered in a version that supports only the two 802.3bz speeds (AQN-108), as well as version that also supports 10GBase-T 10GbE (AQN-107). Unlike incumbent 10GbE NIC vendors, Aquantia aims its new cards at PC clients.

The NICs use Aquantia’s own Aqtion controller chips, which sampled in 4Q16 and are available now. These chips integrate all the requisite MAC, PHY, and PCIe logic. The NICs offer different PCIe support: the AQN-107 provides a PCIe Gen3 x4 interface, and the AQN-108 provides Gen3 x1.

While desktop-access NICs are a new market for the PHY specialist, Aquantia has hit the ground running on both chip and board fronts, with LAN on Motherboard (LOM) chip design-ins from ASRock, and  NICs sold through Asus. Leading manufacturers of 10GbE controller chips have introduced high-speed NICs for data-center applications, but Aquantia sees an underserved market for desktop clients requiring speeds beyond 1Gbps.

We see Aquantia as recognizing a neglected client market for higher-speed Ethernet support. The company is opting for a multipronged way to move to NICs, by working with partners who develop their own PCIe adapters, even as Aquantia distributes its own NICs through Arrow. Offering the PCIe NICs is a logical extension of the initial controller offering, but adding client access devices remains a bold move given the software investment necessary. The move to clients still is likely to realize a payoff in at least some of the potential access markets.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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