Intel has disclosed plans to form a consortium to develop a standard device driver interface to drive growth in standard, high-volume servers.
Intel will join more than half a dozen I/O hardware and Unix OS vendors to formulate the interface, according to John Miner, Intel vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Server group, in a keynote address here at the recent Intel Developer Forum.
Miner also disclosed that Intel is working on a "next-generation" server I/O concept that aims to improve system availability.
Intel will provide silicon and tool support for the technology, which Miner expects to see in core logic early in the next decade. The company will begin briefing hardware suppliers on the initiative before the end of 1998, he said.
The Uniform Driver Interface (UDI) initiative is supported by OS vendors Compaq/Digital, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, SCO, and Sun Microsystems, as well as hardware vendors Adaptec, Bit3, and Interphase. Also supported by the Linux community, the specification aims to overcome the lack of interoperability faced by companies that deliver hardware to the Unix market, Miner explained.
An interface card vendor, for example, currently has to develop and support different device drivers for each version of Unix. With limited resources, the vendor might not be able to correct every problem that might turn up in each version, according to Miner.
In contrast, the supplier of a UDI-compliant driver has just one driver to support, he said.
UDI does not move the industry toward a single version of Unix, but does help reduce costs by increasing commonality, he said.
Intel will contribute knowledge of Intel system interfaces and initiatives, as well as devote engineering resources to work with Project UDI to complete a high-performance reference design, according to Steve Spill, director of strategic alliances at SCO. He expects that Intel will give the completed source code and self-certifying compliance test suite freely to commercial Unix vendors.
Products that implement the UDI specification are expected in the middle of 1999, according to Miner.
Along with UDI, Miner said Intel will update the Server System Infrastructure (SSI), Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI), and Virtual Interface (VI) architecture initiatives.