InfiniBand Endorsed By Sun, IBM, Dell

The technology bounces back from dismissals by Intel and Microsoft.
Dell Computer, IBM, and Sun Microsystems have endorsed InfiniBand high-speed data-center switch technology. The trio Thursday introduced road maps for InfiniBand-compatible servers and networking equipment. Although InfiniBand is designed for link speeds of up to 30 times faster than Gigabit Ethernet, the technology's image was tarnished this year when Intel and Microsoft said InfiniBand support wasn't a top priority for them.

"You're seeing the first implementations of InfiniBand as a way of tying together servers," says Subodh Bapat, chief technology officer of Sun's Volume Systems Products group. The goal is to be the "end-to-end fabric for the data center, but not many managers want to replace Ethernet and Fibre Channel at this time." Sun plans to include support in 2004 for high-bandwidth, low-latency InfiniBand technology in its servers, apps, switches, and storage, including its next blade servers.

IBM says it will support InfiniBand input/output technology in all servers. In the coming year, it plans to sell an InfiniBand switched network that includes host-channel adapter, switch, and fabric management on its Intel-based xSeries servers. The company's midrange and high-end Unix servers will follow with a common clustering interconnect and IPC fabric using InfiniBand I/O. Dell, seeing an opportunity to push into data centers, will include InfiniBand connectivity within the next generation of PowerEdge blade servers, although the company didn't say when.

Although Hewlett-Packard is, along with Dell, IBM, and Sun, a founding member of the InfiniBand Trade Association, it's restricting initial InfiniBand implementations to special situations, such as high-performance computing and clusters, which represent a small percentage of its customers' infrastructure.

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