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InfiniBand Take 2

9:00 AM -- Could InfiniBand finally be having its long-predicted rebirth? The technology is the fastest growing interconnect on the Top 500 list of the world's fastest supercomputers, which will be released today, reflecting growing interest from users. (See Interop: Mixed Messages on InfiniBand and InfiniBand Ambivalence.)

Of course, let's not get carried away: InfiniBand still lags some way behind Gigabit Ethernet when it comes to the Top 500 list, although it is clearly gaining share at the expense of its rivals. (See HPC List Shows Interconnect Status.) Gigabit Ethernet, for example, was used in 211 systems in the current list, down from 256 six months ago, and Myricom's MyriNet fell from 87 to 79 systems. In contrast, InfiniBand increased its share to 78 systems, up from 36 in this summer list.

A number of storage vendors, including Engenio and DataDirect Networks, have started offering native InfiniBand storage systems, which let customers connect directly through InfiniBand switches, eliminating the need for Fibre Channel-to-InfiniBand bridges. (See InfiniBand Natives Stirring, Engenio Goes Native , and Verari Ships InfiniBand SAN.)

Users have cited the low latency of InfiniBand as ideal for storage networking, opening up the possibility of major storage grids. But, whether the conehead scientists of the top 500 list are really giving us a hint of things to come remains to be seen.

For one thing, big-name storage vendors such as Brocade and EMC have been, at best, lukewarm on the subject of InfiniBand storage, citing lack of user demand and even the technology's bulky copper cabling as impediments to its adoption.

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