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Interconnect Pricing Shows InfiniBand Advantage - for Now

Per-port pricing turns up some surprising results

We've all seen the PowerPoint slide that depicts the relative pricing of 10 Gigabit Ethernet, InfiniBand, and Fibre Channel. Usually, the upshot is a plug for the presenter's wares.

Central to the argument is the calculation of price per gigabit/second -- the sum of per-port costs of host adapters and switches, divided by the Gbit/s delivered by the technology. Marketing math? Maybe, but the results can prove interesting.

It's an intriguing exercise overall, and after viewing a few of these slides, we at Byte and Switch decided to undertake our own comparative worksheet of per-port pricing. The results are in the table below:

Table 1: Storage Connections Compared

Server adapter or HBA price per port Switch price per port Price per Gbit/s (sum of adapter port and switch port costs, divided by Gbit/s)
10 Gbit/s InfiniBand $586 $300 $89
10 Gbit/s Ethernet (CX4) $738 $1,380 $212
10 Gbit/s Ethernet (fiber) $1,600 $1,420 $302
Gigabit Ethernet (copper or fiber) $112 $110 $222
4 Gbit/s Fibre Channel $900 $110 $252
2 Gbit/s Fibre Channel $736 $483 $309
Source: Byte and Switch

By way of comparison, here are two price-per-gigabit worksheets from vendors with axes to grind (names have been withheld):

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