Sun, Topspin Team On InfiniBand Technology

Companies to boost data center performance.

Sun Microsystems Inc. and Topspin Communications Inc. will jointly develop and license InfiniBand technology designed to improve performance of data centers that use Sun systems.

Sun next year will begin rolling out InfiniBand-ready server and storage hardware with InfiniBand interfaces to Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet devices, according to John Davis, director of volume systems products at the Santa Clara, Calif., company.

"In applications like databases, application servers, Java development, [customer relationship management], [enterprise resource planning], we will significantly increase performance in the data center [with InfiniBand] and reduce the total cost of ownership in those environments," Davis said.

Topspin, of Mountain View, Calif., will work to take the upper-layer protocols related to InfiniBand that are housed in host channel adapters and bring them into Suns proprietary Solaris operating environment.

Sun officials said that InfiniBand—a channel-based, switched-fabric architecture—is the most cost-effective high-speed interconnect technology on the market. It was among the first technologies to run at 10G bps.


New technologies promise to speed up data centers
  • Sun Plans to offer InfiniBand- enabled servers and storage devices starting next year
  • Topspin Will provide interfaces for linking Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel with InfiniBand
In December, Sun joined with IBM and Dell Computer Corp. in throwing support behind InfiniBand, which at one point was touted as a replacement for other interconnect technologies, such as PCI on the desktop. However, other technologies have popped up—PCI-X, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel and iSCSI—and now InfiniBand, with its low latency and high bandwidth, is being viewed as a complementary technology that initially will take hold in clustering and high-performance computing environments.

However, Topspin officials said the Sun agreement will help InfiniBand move beyond being a niche standard because it involves entire hardware and software lines at Sun.

Tony Prigmore, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group Inc., said Sun has been the most consistent backer among the major OEMs of InfiniBand, and the deal with Topspin means the companys installed base will see improved performance in the data center.

"Most of the really large databases run on the Sun platform," said Prigmore, in Milford, Mass. "A lot of financial institutions run on Solaris platforms. A fairly large segment of Suns installed base ... are very performance-sensitive users."