InfiniCon, Voltaire Roll Out New Switches

The two InfiniBand vendors designed the switches to give high-performance computing and cluster users more options and greater bandwidth.

Two InfiniBand vendors are rolling out new interconnect switches designed to give high-performance computing and cluster users more options and greater bandwidth.

At the Supercomputing 2003 show in Phoenix, InfiniCon Systems Inc. is unveiling the InfinIO 9000 switching series, including the first product in the line, the InfinIO 9024. The 1U (1.75-inch) 9024 provides up to 24 10Gb/sec InfiniBand ports, up to eight 30Gb/sec ports, or a combination of both.

The switch, which will be generally available from the King of Prussia, Pa., company in January, will offer up to 480Gb/sec on bandwidth. According to CEO Chuck Foley, the 9024 will be joined in the second half of 2004 by larger models that will pack more than 100 10Gb/sec ports in a single switch.

Key to the switches is embedded management software that enables users to drop them into a data center and have them automatically discover servers and detect errors, Foley said. Via the software, the InfiniBand environment can scale to hundreds or thousands of servers and can be easily managed, he said.

Also at the show, Voltaire Inc., of Bedford, Mass., is rolling out its own 24-port switch, the Voltaire ISR 9024, aimed at small clusters or as building blocks for larger clusters. Like InfiniCons switch, Voltaires also offers up to 480Gp/sec of throughput, and also can be managed via VoltaireVision InfiniBand Fabric Management Software or existing management systems being run by customers that use such protocols as SNMP or InfiniBand baseboard management. It, too, will be available in the first quarter of 2004.

Though InfiniBand has seen its greatest traction in the high-performance computing space, Foley said that in the second half of 2004, it will start making greater headway into the enterprise. Fueling that in part will be price: while other options can cost as much as $20,000 a port, InfiniCons switches cost about $700 a port. In addition, cluster-enabled applications—such as Oracle Corp.s 10g database—will become more prominent and businesses will continue the push to virtualize their data center resources, which will require a high-speed interconnect like InfiniBand, he said.

"InfiniBand is real. Its going to have guns behind it," Foley said. "Its going to have people like Oracle behind it, like Sun [Microsystems Inc.] behind it."