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By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2002-12-23 Print this article Print

: InfiniBand: Whats Next?"> Voltaire Inc., of Bedford, Mass., in the first quarter will release the next generation of its nVigor InfiniBand switch router, also at 4x speed, officials said. The product will be aimed primarily at OEMs, although it will also be marketed to enterprises, they said.

Further down the road, InfiniCon Systems Inc., of King of Prussia, Pa., will upgrade its InfinIO 7000 Shared I/O System, which was released in September, to enable data centers to integrate InfiniBand into Fibre Channel and Ethernet networks.

In the first quarter of 2004, InfiniCon will increase the number of Fibre Channel ports in the chassis from 16 to 32 and Ethernet ports from three to eight, said CEO Chuck Foley. The number of InfiniBand ports will remain at 60, Foley said, although he expects by 2005 those ports will be handling 12x (30G-bps) InfiniBand.

But until major server makers fully and publicly embrace InfiniBand, the technology will not resonate with corporate IT.

Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, said that its next generation of PowerEdge blade servers will be InfiniBand-ready and that the company is testing InfiniBand clusters in its laboratories. IBM in 2003 will begin deploying InfiniBand across its entire eServer line. Starting next year, the Armonk, N.Y., company will enable an InfiniBand switched network that includes a host channel adapter, switch and fabric management on its eServer xSeries line of Intel-based servers. It also is developing a common clustering interconnect using InfiniBand.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., said it will incorporate InfiniBand in future switches, storage and server platforms, including its next generation of blade servers starting in 2004.

Hewlett-Packard Co. in September said it was leaning toward Ethernet-based solutions—including remote direct memory addressing—over InfiniBand, although Karl Walker, CTO of the Palo Alto, Calif., companys Industry Standard Servers unit, said HP has not ruled out InfiniBand. Like other OEMs, Walker said, part of the decision will be made once the company sees what kind of ecosystem crops up around InfiniBand.

Some users are still hanging back. Joe Gottron, CIO for Huntington Bancshares Inc., in Columbus, Ohio, was taken aback this summer when Intel and Microsoft stepped back from InfiniBand—although both are still supporters of the interconnect. Gottron said a high-speed I/O will be needed to eliminate data transfer slowdowns among servers in data centers. Gottron said he is now "in a wait-and-see kind of mode," adding that he will hold back on InfiniBand until he sees "what direction the market goes."

However, one area where InfiniBand is making some inroads is high-performance computing, where low latency and high bandwidth are important. Los Alamos National Laboratory, in Los Alamos, N.M., is planning to connect 128 servers via InfiniBand to create a supercomputer environment.

Mike Boorman, team leader at the lab, said InfiniBand is attractive because of its relatively low cost and low latency—about 7 microseconds, compared with Ethernets 10 to 20 microseconds. All 128 nodes will be running by January, Boorman said, with the test running until about March. InfiniBand is "a good candidate for a high-speed, low-latency interconnect," he said. He added that Los Alamos is also looking at proprietary technology from such companies as Quadrics Ltd. and will look at 10 Gigabit Ethernet in the next couple of years.


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