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Topspin Tangos With Dell

The InfiniBandwagon received a push from Dell Computer Corp. yesterday. The hardware giant will use switch technology from startup Topspin Communications Inc. as part of its new, all-singing, all dancing supercomputer clusters (see Dell Boosts Supercomputing Cluster ).

The cluster packages employ Dells PowerEdge 1850 servers with Intel Corp.’s (Nasdaq: INTC) Xeon EM64T processors, supporting TopSpin’s TS270 InfiniBand switch and PCIe host channel adapters (HCAs). Dell execs claim the clusters can offer up to 8 Gbit/s of throughput from a single server, which is around eight times the throughput of previous Dell cluster offerings.

Dell is one of a string of vendors to rubber-stamp Topspin’s technology. The startup has been collecting OEM partners like baseball cards for over a year. These include Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), NEC Corp. (Nasdaq: NIPNY; Tokyo: 6701), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and RLX Technologies Inc.

But despite the apparent popularity of Topspin, InfiniBand is yet to achieve widespread deployment outside of high-performance computing. With its low latency and high bandwidth, the technology was seen by some industry experts as ideal for certain data center applications and storage interconnects. However, most organizations find that Fiber Channel is more than adequate for their storage needs, and InfiniBand has so far been consigned to supercomputing clusters.

And it is debatable whether InfiniBand will ever break out of this role, according to David Freund, analyst at Illuminata Inc. “InfiniBand is sort of settling into its niche [for] cluster interconnect," he says. “The jury is still out on the commercial world -- how many applications need that low latency and high bandwidth?”

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