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Obsidian Extends InfiniBand

A tiny Canadian startup has launched itself out of a storage company and grabbed a couple of contracts with the U.S. government to develop long-range InfiniBand. And the resulting technology could find its way into replication appliances sometime next year.

Obsidian Research Corp. has created a two-port, 1U box called the Longbow XR that encapsulates InfiniBand traffic in a variety of WAN links. The startup has demonstrated the prototype box in tests at NASA and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), linking remote clusters over OC192c Sonet networks at up to 6,500 kilometers.

Since InfiniBand is chiefly a copper-based short-range interconnection used for systems and storage within data centers, the ability to extend it so far presents some intriguing possibilities.

"This would allow you to link clusters across large geographic areas strictly with InfiniBand, using existing commercial networks," says a government researcher, who works at a major lab but asked not to be named. There would be no need for dedicated fiber. Applications supporting InfiniBand could remain intact, and various conversion products, such as Ethernet switches, wouldn't be required.

"Okay, it's vaporware, but interesting vaporware," he quips.

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