IBM to Resell InfiniBand Switches

IBM will resell switches for use in its mainframe servers and storage offerings.

IBMs increased interest in InfiniBand could help in making the high-speed interconnect technology, heretofore confined primarily to high-performance-computing applications, more easily available to a broader enterprise audience.

IBM last week said it had entered into a five-year deal to resell Topspin Communications Inc.s InfiniBand switches for use with its mainframe zSeries servers; Intel Corp.-based xSeries systems; and pSeries servers, which run on IBMs Power processors. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., also will use Topspin switches in its storage products.

IBM will have access to Topspins 10G-bps switches, and the 30G-bps switches are due later this year. Some 30G-bps products will be shown this week at LinuxWorld in New York, said officials at Topspin, of Mountain View, Calif.

Topspin, which entered into a reseller deal in March of last year with Sun Microsystems Inc., makes switches and adapters designed to integrate the high-bandwidth, low-latency technology into data centers. Fujitsu Ltd., based in Tokyo, will join IBM and Sun in reselling InfiniBand products. Fujitsu last week said it will use InfiniCon Systems Inc.s InfiniBand switches in its high-availability cluster offerings for enterprises.

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Engineers at MCNC Research & Development Institute used both IBM systems and InfiniBand technology to build part of its enterprise grid in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The 64-node system is powered by 128 2.8GHz Intel Xeon chips and runs Red Hat Inc.s namesake Linux distribution. The other part runs Intels 64-bit Itanium on a Silicon Graphics Inc. server.

The engineers have seen InfiniBand provide about a sixfold performance increase over Gigabit Ethernet in some test applications, said Steve Woods, principal systems analyst with the institutes Grid Computing & Networking Services. "Our initial performance data indicates significant improvement using Topspins server switch, much faster than Gig-E and most proprietary interconnects," Woods said. "Especially key is the low latency and high bandwidth the solution delivers."

InfiniBand has been favored for high-performance-computing situations. InfiniCon, in King of Prussia, Pa., this week at LinuxWorld will unveil two high-performance-computing deals, including one in which Pennsylvania State University will use the companys InfinIO Switch Series in a 160-node cluster. Also, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will include InfiniCon products in a 128-node system it is creating. In a similar vein, Voltaire Inc. last week said the Ohio Supercomputer Center will use the Bedford, Mass., companys ISR 9600 InfiniBand switch routers, software and host channel adapters in a 128-node cluster.