EtherExpress is a technology from Intel that is used in network server adapters (devices that attach the server to the network cable) for Ethernet-based local area networks (LANs). The EtherExpress adapter has a built-in i960 processor (an Intel processor with 32-bit RISC-based architecture) that allows it to offload work from the server's processor, improving network efficiency by reducing demands on server resources. Adapters that offload processor work are known as intelligent adapters.
Network adapter performance is usually assessed by comparing its data throughput (the rate at which data can be sent and received, measured in megabits per second or in frames per second) against the host CPU utilization, a measurement of the proportion of time the server's processor has to spend on network-related tasks. EtherExpress technology enhances adapter performance both by increasing throughput and by lowering CPU utilization, which increases the amount of time the server has for other requests.
EtherExpress server adapters are designed to take advantage of a number of advanced server technologies, such as:
- Adapter Fault Tolerance (AFT), a method of protecting vital network links through the use of multiple adapters and redundant links which take over automatically if the first link fails
- Adaptive Load Balancing (ALB), which allows as many as four adapters to handle outgoing server traffic, enabling scalable network bandwidth increases (up to 400 Mbps
- Fast EtherChannel (FEC), a technology from Cisco Systems that balances incoming and outgoing traffic to increase throughput
- PCI Hot Plug, a technology from Compaq that makes it possible for a failed adapter to be hot swapped (replaced without powering down the server), allowing the network to function normally throughout the procedure.
EtherExpress server adapters include the EtherExpress PRO/100+ Server Adapter, the EtherExpress PRO/100 Intelligent Server Adapter, and the EtherExpress PRO/1000 Gigabit Server Adapter.