InfiniBand Supporters Reach Out to Linux

Open-source InfiniBand supporters band together to form a corporate alliance to provide Linux with InfiniBand drivers.

Leading InfiniBand companies and organizations have banded together to form OpenIB Alliance, an industry association with the mission of delivering an open-source Linux-based software stack for deploying InfiniBand architecture.

InfiniBand is a channel-based, switch-fabric architecture. At first, starting in 2000, its proponents pushed it as a system bus/network bus network replacement for everything from PCI to Fibre Channel. The technology found it rough going though with questions about whether major OEMs would support it well into 2003.

Now, with support from a laundry list of major hardware, storage and software vendors, InfiniBand seems posed to be, as Sun Microsystems Inc. puts it, the interconnect technology "for the data center."

While the OpenIB Alliance hasnt laid out its plans yet on what methods itll use to build Linux drivers, Edmund Nadolski, a staff engineer for Sun, hopes that the group will use UDI (Uniform Driver Interface). "Since UDI already exists for Linux, it would make sense for these folks to write the new driver stack in UDI," he said. "Yes, its a new driver model for most folks, but in the long run it saves a ton of porting, distribution and support costs and issues."

"We are fully behind the formation of the OpenIB Alliance. This will help accelerate the availability of a single InfiniBand stack and make InfiniBand a more viable alternative for Oracle clusters," said Juan Loaiza, Oracles System Technology Group vice president, in a statement.

The OpenIB Alliance will create a standard set of InfiniBand drivers for the Linux operating system. The aim is to enable administrators to use Linux servers equipped with InfiniBand in mainstream data center and HPC (High Performance Computing) deployments.

The OpenIB Alliance is made up of technology vendors and end-user organizations, including Dell Inc., Engenio Information Technologies Inc. (formerly LSI Logic Storage Systems), IBM, InfiniCon, Intel Corp., Mellanox Technologies, Network Appliance, Sun and Veritas Software Corp. Membership is open to all companies with an interest in developing a common Linux implementation for InfiniBand deployments.

"OpenIB Alliances development of a Linux software stack is of critical importance to the adoption of RDMA," said David Ford, director of engineering at Network Appliance Inc. "The technology will enable customers to build large-scale Linux grids without performance compromises."

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