Trio Adds Muscle to Infiniband Switches

InfiniCon, Topspin and Voltaire announce 1U switches that offer up to 480G bps of bandwidth and 24 Infiniband ports.

InfiniCon Systems Inc., Topspin Communications Inc. and Voltaire Inc. are enhancing their InfiniBand switches to provide increased performance and bandwidth in high-performance computing and clustered environments.

At the SC2003 supercomputing show in Phoenix last week, each of the vendors announced 1U (1.75-inch) switches that offer as much as 480G bps of bandwidth and as many as 24 InfiniBand ports.

InfiniCon, of King of Prussia, Pa., unveiled the InfinIO 9000 switching series, including the first product in the line, the InfinIO 9024. The 9024 provides as many as 24 10G-bps InfiniBand ports, as many as eight 30G-bps ports or a combination of both. The switch will be generally available in January and will be joined in the second half of next year by larger models that will pack more than 100 10G-bps ports in a single switch.

Embedded management software enables users to drop the InfinIO 9000 switches into a data center and have them automatically discover servers and detect errors, officials said. Via the software, the InfiniBand environment can scale to hundreds or thousands of servers and can be easily managed, the officials said.

Separately, Topspin introduced the 24-port Topspin 120 Server Switch, which also can support both 10G-bps and 30G-bps connections to servers. The switch can be combined with the Mountain View, Calif., companys other InfiniBand switches and its Ethernet and Fibre Channel gateways to give users connectivity between server clusters and resources in their networks and storage devices. It is due for trials next month.

Also at the show, Topspin unveiled the EX Ethernet Gateway, a second-generation design that enables users to connect an InfiniBand-attached server cluster to Ethernet-attached LANs or network-attached storage devices.

Infiniband Switch Lineup

These 24-port devices can be configured to support up to 480G-bps throughput



InfiniCons InfinIO 9024 switch


Topspins 120 Server Switch

Next month

Voltaires ISR 9024 switch

Next quarter

For its part, Voltaire, of Bedford, Mass., rolled out a 24-port switch, the Voltaire ISR 9024, designed for small clusters or to be used as building blocks for larger clusters. Voltaires switch can be managed using VoltaireVision InfiniBand Fabric Management software or existing management systems. It is due next quarter.

The new products illustrate the resurgence of a technology that once held high promise, then floundered until this year, when most major OEMs threw their support behind it and vendors began rolling out 10G-bps capabilities, said InfiniCon CEO Chuck Foley.

Vernon Turner, an analyst with IDC, based in Framingham, Mass., said InfiniBand is beginning to get firm traction in the high-performance computing industry. For it to move into the enterprise more broadly, major server vendors will have to clarify their plans for the interconnect technology, and the top database makers will have to get their products tuned for InfiniBand, Turner said. But the major stumbling block could be management software, he said.

"The challenge for InfiniBand vendors is to come forward with a management stack or management solution that is an industry standard," Turner said.

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