Also, the interconnect space has gotten more crowded, with the rise of such technology as Fibre Channel, Ethernet and PCI-X. But InfiniBand offers a combination of benefits that others dont, Bradicich said. In particular, its an open standard that already has scaled to 10 gigabits per second1-gigabit Ethernet is still maturing, and 10-gigabit Ethernet is still months away, he saidhas an offload engine to reduce demand on the microprocessor and supports RDMA, or Remote Direct Memory Access, which enables one server to directly access the memory of another. It also has growing OEM support. Bradicich said the next generation of IBMs Intel-based xSeries servers will be InfiniBand-enabled, and that Oracle Corp. will include InfiniBand support in the next major release of its Oracle9i Real Application Clusters product. Bob Zak, a Distinguished Engineer with Sun Microsystems Inc., said the Santa Clara, Calif., company will introduce the next generation of its blade servers with InfiniBand support next year, followed by other server and storage products. Its SunONE software products also will be enhanced with InfiniBand supporters.Equally as important as OEM support is adoption of the technology by enterprises, say InfiniBand supports. Donald Canning, vice president and chief technologist for Prudential Insurance Group, said his company has begun a pilot program using InfiniBand to scale out and simplify its DB2 resources running on x345 servers. Canning said he expects to expand that pilot to other parts of his data centers. "What we are trying to get to is on-demand computing," he said. "This silo approach [of computing] was very expensive."
The computer makers also have partnered with smaller InfiniBand companies. In March, Sun announced a joint development and licensing agreement with Topspin Communications Inc., while IBM has said that its DB2 database software can run with technology from such companies as Topspin, Voltaire Inc. and InfiniCon Systems Inc.