Intel Acquires QLogic's InfiniBand Franchise

Obtaining InfiniBand intellectual property for $125 million bolsters Intel's strategic move toward exascale computing.

Intel bolstered its networking industry standing on Jan. 23 by acquiring the InfiniBand intellectual property-and bringing on board the people who run it-from networking processor and software maker QLogic.

The deal, expected to close by the end of the current quarter, set back Intel by $125 million. QLogic, based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., also makes Fibre Channel switches, routers, adapters and ASICs.

InfiniBand is a low-latency, high-bandwidth system interconnect standard that delivers high-speed data rates over short distances, such as within a single data center or connecting two adjacent data centers. It is specifically designed to combine the computing power of numerous machines into one supercomputer.

InfiniBand is available in several enterprise products from companies such as Oracle (for its high-speed Exadata and Exalogic servers), IBM (in its System p servers), EMC Isilon (high-end storage) and others.

"Consistent with what we've said in the past, we are firmly committed to high-performance computing, and it's becoming a bigger part of our server portfolio in terms of revenue," Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager for Intel's data center and connected systems group, told eWEEK.

Skaugen said the acquisition will provide scalable HPC fabric networking as well as support the company's vision of innovating on fabric architectures to achieve ExaFLOP/s performance by 2018. An ExaFLOP/s is a quintillion computer operations per second, a hundred times more than today's fastest supercomputers.

"We have a conviction that we want to reach an exascale performance by 2018-within 20 megawatts. Technically speaking, people know that this requires a deeper level of [data center systems] fabric and integration over time to accomplish that," Skaugen said.

Exascale computing refers to computing capabilities beyond the currently existing petascale. If achieved, exascale computing would represent a thousandfold increase over that scale. Supercomputing analysts have projected that the IT industry should be able to implement this by 2018.

The exascale initiative has been endorsed by two U.S. agencies: the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The IT would be used in various computation-intensive research areas, such as basic research, engineering, earth science, biology, materials science, energy issues and national security.

The U.S. federal government allocated $126 million for implementation of exascale computing in 2012.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...