"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.