So here we are again; trying to figure out what the strange piece of kit that I’ve been given this week does. I do note though, that at the time of writing James has not yet completed his Windows Server 2012 blog post which was promised when the ‘Marketing Does Kit’ deal was struck… some payback may be necessary there.

Here’s the second image to make it into the Veber Marketing Does Kit hall of fame.

Quad-Port Ethernet Network Interface Mezzanine Card

I have to admit that my heart sank when I saw it. That dark green associated with thousands upon millions of different bits of technical kit across the globe did not fill me with confidence.
However, there was a serial number and a manufacturer so the discovery of what this bit of kit actually is was relatively straightforward. A quick Google search brought up, the company who made the kit, Broadcom’s homepage where I learnt of their significant contribution to communication and semiconductor solutions. I was also faced with the realisation of the fear mentioned above – “Today, [Broadcom] estimates that 99.98% of Internet traffic crosses at least one Broadcom chip – in the home, in the hand and across the network…. [Broadcom] products are found everywhere on the planet, from urban corporate data centres and the cloud, to villages in some of the most isolated parts of the world.”

Thousands of different units in millions of bits of kit then?

Thank goodness for serial numbers! Another search and I land at Dell’s Canadian site on the page informing me that the bit of kit above is a Quad-Port 1000BASE-X Ethernet x4 PCIe Network Interface Mezzanine Card. That’s great for those of you in the know, but not entirely helpful in my challenge.

So I know what it is but I don’t know what it does or why this is important to Veber. So back to the search engines to try and decipher that name and get some kind of meaning out of it. Several websites later, I have come up with these definitions for the different parts of the kit;

  • So Quad-Port clearly means four ports, this is next to the word base and Ethernet so I will assume that the Quad Port is on the bottom and is for use with Ethernet cables.
  • PCIe is a Peripheral Component Interconnect Express which acts as a computer expansion bus for attaching hardware devices, such as network cards, in a computer.
  • Mezzanine Card is also known as a daughterboard because it acts as an embedded interface on or extension of a motherboard, often with plugs, sockets, pins or connectors.
  • Extension and expansion are the words which stand out to me here. It could be the clue as to why Veber needs this kit.

To figure this next step out, I had to get some help from the colleagues (out come the biscuits again to sweeten the deal)

Anzac Biscuits

So the guys in the office have told me that this piece of kit is an add-on network card for our Dell blade infrastructure. These go into our blades to add an extra 2 or 4 network ports to our blade servers to enable extra traffic and additional features.

add-on network card for Dell blade infrastructure.
We need these because often clients want to segregate traffic on the network. For example virtual servers like to have a couple of interfaces for virtual machine traffic and separate that from ISCSI traffic.

It goes into a server like the photo below.



add on network card in server

You can also add different types of daughter card in too, so for example you could put in two quad port adapters, plus the onboard two for a total of ten network cards per server!




Conclusion – What was that again?

I was given a Quad-Port Ethernet Network Interface Mezzanine Card or a daughterboard. It acts as an add-on to our infrastructure, giving us extra network ports and offering our clients the opportunity to segregate their traffic.


Did I Get It?

I think so. Once again, I showed everyone that I know more than they think and I can put my mind to IT if I need to; just give me a bit of time to Google how it all works first!

Comment below to let me know how you think I did, and watch this space for part three!



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