What is an intelligent ethernet adapter?
Intelligent adapters are just that, smarter than the average card. These beauties are a wonderful addition to the networking environment as they are able to perform a lot of the lower layer functions by offloading the main CPU cycles and processing packets right on the card. No having to pass the packet up to the main CPU to see if the broadcast is meant for the system, the adapter can do it! No having to pass the packet up to do the main CPU for TCP 3-way handshake, the adapter can do it! No more recirculating the packet to add VXLAN headers, the adapter can do it! Basically, most of the basic functions that can be done at those lower levels can be done right on the adapter itself and not have to pass the packet up to the main CPU for processing, this allows the overall speed to increase on all computing cycles as the main CPU doesn’t have to process all the minor information that it used to do. A lot like the way a GPU handles video instructions instead of the main CPU, an intelligent adapter with TOE (TCP Offload Engine) handles basic TCP/IP functions in place of the main CPU.