RLX Blades Gain InfiniBand Support

RLX partners with Topspin to bring InfiniBand capabilities to its blade servers.

RLX Technologies Inc. is partnering with Topspin Communications Inc. to bring InfiniBand capabilities to its blade servers.

Officials with RLX, of The Woodlands, Texas, said they have made their high-end blade servers InfiniBand-ready by building the capabilities into the chassis. The deal with Topspin, announced Monday, will enable RLX to put its InfiniBand plan into action.

Topspin, of Mountain View, Calif., will adapt its InfiniBand hardware and software to work with RLXs blade server architecture. Included in the package will be InfiniBand host channel adapters and software, switches and gateways from Topspin, enabling InfiniBand-to-Ethernet and InfiniBand-to-Fibre Channel connectivity. This way RLX will be able to connect its blade servers to legacy local area networks and storage-area networks.

Ron Neyland, product director for RLX, said the company will be able to offer InfiniBand connectivity in its dual-Xeon ServerBlade 2800i system, introduced in February, and its new 3000i server rolled out last week. The 3000i is powered by 3.06GHz Xeons and includes a 533MHz front-side bus.

Both systems are 6U (10.5 inches high) and offer 10 servers per chassis.

Monty McGraw, chief architect for RLX, said HPC (high-performance computing) customers have been demanding InfiniBand connectivity. The keys for these users—which primarily are research and government institutions—are the low latency, high speed and low cost offered by InfiniBand, McGraw said.

However, at the same time, enterprises are beginning to demand the same performance and cost gains in their data centers, he said.

InfiniBand is a channel-based, switched-fabric architecture used to connect servers with each other or other networks. The serial interconnect already has reached data transfer speeds of 10G bps, and the spec for 30G bps already has been rolled out.

In development for three years, the technology has found its greatest traction in the HPC and clustering spaces. However, major OEMs—including IBM, Oracle Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc.—are beginning to make their systems InfiniBand-enabled. During an event last week, IBM officials said they intend to make the next generation of their entire Intel-based xSeries line of systems support InfiniBand, and that Suns next generation of blade servers, scheduled to launch next year, will support InfiniBand. Oracle also will support the technology in the next major enhancement of its Oracle9i Real Application Clusters product.

Thats good news for companies such as Topspin that have been working for several years to create InfiniBand products. Topspin in March announced a joint development and licensing deal with Sun.

Topspins Switched Computing Systems, designed to link data center resources via InfiniBand, offer up to 12 InfiniBand ports and can be expanded by four more InfiniBand ports, two Fibre Channel ports or four Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Also on Monday, Topspin announced it has expanded it Switched Computing Systems by adding a hardware abstraction layer armed with APIs that enable third-party provisioning applications to automatically establish connections between server, storage and networking resources depending on external policies. Combined with the InfiniBand capabilities of the switch and a backplane that can link clusters of servers with storage and networking resources, the result of the new hardware abstraction layer is that enterprise applications can now scale up and down depending on the demand of the business, according to the company.

Topspin announced the new capability at the Cluster World Conference and Expo.