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Intelligent Input/Output (I2O) was an input/output (I/O) specification that was designed to use an Intel i960 microprocessor as an I/O offloading engine. It was created by Intel Corporation in the mid-1990s to streamline and accelerate I/O operations on servers. I2O was also intended to remove the need for different drivers for each OS, network card and small computer system interface (SCSI) card.
Due to several problems including high expenses and a lack of efficiency, I2O was discontinued in October of 2000.
I2O was mostly used in small systems incorporating the features of mainframe channels. A mainframe channel is capable of transmitting several hundred data transactions simultaneously. The increased data transfer speed was attained by the use of an Intel i960 chip on the server’s motherboard. The chip was able to manage a great deal of the I/O processing, which would generally be controlled by the CPU or I/O subsystem.
I2O was mainly designed to relieve the host OS by reducing interrupts from various applications such as video, client-server processing and groupware. It supported clustered systems, single processors and multiprocessors.
I2O used the hardware device module (HDM) for management and the OS services module (OSM) to interface with the host OS. The HDM and OSM communicated using a two-layer message-passing protocol. The two modules supported numerous processors, OS systems and buses. The communication was handled by the message layer, which transmitted data in sessions, while the transport layer defined how the data was shared.
I2O was afflicted with various complications and was terminated in 2000.