Answer

Hardware support for KVM over Ethernet may require daughter card

What equipment or infrastructure is needed to deploy KVM over Ethernet? How does IPMI relate to remote KVM?

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KVM over Ethernet -- sometimes called KVM over IP or KVM over LAN -- requires hardware support from each of the servers being managed. In nearly all cases, this involves the inclusion of a KVM feature in a dedicated microcontroller -- usually included in the server's baseboard management controller (BMC) chip. In other systems, KVM over IP capabilities can be added through the inclusion of a daughter card that plugs into the system motherboard.

One key function of the KVM over Ethernet controller is compression; it must capture keyboard, mouse and video signals and compress that data before sending it on to the network. Video compression is particularly important to effective remote KVM use because high resolutions, high color depths, and graphics and other visual media at the remote server require moving a lot of visual data. Compression reduces bandwidth demands and often eases the lag that might be experienced between moving the mouse or pressing a key and actually seeing the corresponding feedback on the display.

The Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) is a comprehensive interface designed for out-of-band systems management. IPMI is not required for KVM over IP, but systems supporting IPMI 2.0 will typically include support for integrated features like KVM over IP, remote virtual media and embedded Web server capabilities (among other features). So moving to a server with IPMI 2.0 will often bring KVM over IP capability at the same time.

This was first published in April 2013

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