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Interop: Mixed Messages on InfiniBand

LAS VEGAS -- InfiniBand continues to have fans and foes in seemingly equal -- if small -- measure. If this week's Interop tradeshow is any indication of market feeling, deployments are still largely in the high-performance computing (HPC) environment, proponents are still hopeful of wider adoption, and big storage vendors are still resistant.

Cheerleaders spoke up this week: "InfiniBand will have a rebirth," predicts Howard Goldstein, president of consulting firm HGAI, who led the conference's storage networking day. "Look at Cisco's acquisition of Topspin, look at QLogic's acquisition of Pathscale." (See QLogic to Buy PathScale and Cisco Completes Topspin Buy.)

"I agree with the perception that it will make a comeback," said a product manager from a semiconductor firm, who asked not to be named. "If you look beyond Fibre Channel and Ethernet, its something else that people have to look at. Initially, it was perceived as an IBM-only thing, and that kind of hurt it."

"We would look at it for storage because of its low latency," says a network engineer from an East Coast state government, who also cloaked himself in anonymity. InfinBand, he added, is also in the frame as a potential interconnect for his state's fast-growing server farm. "Our server area has outgrown our mainframe floor-space," he says.

Other users cite the server and grid computing benefits of the technology. "I think it's a great idea," opines Roy Rabey, IT Manager at Dallas-based gaming firm Ensemble Studios. In particular, Rabey feels the technology is a good fit for his data-intensive server work. "We do a lot of rendering, so having interconnected [processor] memories would improve our ability to render the data-intensive objects we use in game development."

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