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InfiniCon Shrinks Switches

InfiniBand startup InfiniCon Systems Inc. has launched what it calls the densest and most powerful IB switch family on the market -- but given the state of InfiniBand today, this may be a bit like bragging about having the largest Klingon vocabulary in the galaxy [ed. note: baQa'!].

All three switches in InfiniCon's new InfinIO 3000 family of switches offer 32 10-Gbit/s InfiniBand ports, all squished into a single rack unit. The family includes a standalone core switch, which provides non-blocking, full bisectional bandwidth for all ports, and between 110 and 330 nanoseconds of latency; and two edge switches designed to work in conjunction with the core switch. The edge switches don't offer bisectional bandwidth and have only 110ns latency (see InfiniCon Debuts 10G Switches).

InfiniCon claims its approach -- using different switch configurations in tiers of a large-port-count fabric -- requires literally hundreds fewer switching chips than competitive switch architectures. That greatly reduces fabric hop counts, which in turn allows customers to lower their costs and reduce latencies by as much as 600 percent, the company claims.

Cool as this may sound, the obvious question is whether anything InfiniBand is worth writing home about. A couple of years ago, market analysts were predicting that the high-speed, low-latency interconnect technology would soon rule the world, replacing Fibre Channel in SANs in the process (see our report on Whither InfiniBand?). Since then, however, industry observers have tried to distance themselves from early predictions that InfiniBand would represent a multibillion-dollar market by now, and some have declared the technology dead in the water.

With its new products, however, InfiniCon is addressing a narrow space still considered fertile for InfiniBand implantation: the high-performance computer and database clustering market. "This plays very well in the enterprise or anywhere where there are server farms," says InfiniCon CTO Todd Matters.

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