InfiniBand Products Come to Life

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-02-05

The development of a new data transfer technology designed to eliminate potential bottlenecks at ever-expanding data centers will take a major step forward this week when startup Mellanox Technologies Inc. ships its InfiniBridge silicon components.

The Santa Clara, Calif., companys switches and adapters are the first commercially available silicon products for use with InfiniBand, a fabric-based architecture for transferring data between storage and networking devices.

Proponents say InfiniBand will offer data centers greater flexibility and scalability as well as improved performance over todays commonly used PCI bus and the recently developed PCI-X bus.

Further underscoring InfiniBands momentum, Intel Corp. last week announced it had begun shipping samples of its own InfiniBand silicon and software to major computer vendors.

The Santa Clara-based chip maker is predicting that the first InfiniBand-enabled servers or hardware devices using the new technology will hit the market in the second half of the year.

The architectures development is overseen by the InfiniBand Trade Association, founded by seven top high-tech companies: Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel, Microsoft Corp., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. Since the trade group was formed in 1999, more than 200 companies have signed on to develop an industrywide specification.

Even though they welcome the technology, some IT managers may not be ready to integrate it with PCI-based equipment.

"It does have advantages over PCI and PCI-X," said one data center manager who was briefed on InfiniBand by Intel and a server maker. "But I think some managers will be reluctant to mix in InfiniBand-based servers with their existing PCI-based hardware unless the benefits far outweigh the potential problems."

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