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The War of Words

6:40 PM -- Will Ethernet win the battle for the data center? It may not make it out of the war of words.

Ethernet vendors insist there's a revolution afoot: New chips promise to speed up servers. (See NetXen Singles Out 10-Gig.) New switches herald faster LANs. (See Force 10 Fires Up Low Latency Switch.) A spate of IP SAN gear is going 10-Gig. (See 10-Gig IP SANs Hit Bleeding Edge.)

This talk has stirred other factions, namely those vendors behind Fibre Channel and InfiniBand, into indignant reactions.

Consider this email from an InfiniBand supplier, who shall remain unnamed, in response to our article Friday on Force 10's switch announcement: "300ns latency for this switch is not close to InfiniBand switches which are at 150ns switching latency." What's more, he insists, our article "completely ignores the fact that it is not switch latencies" at issue, but server-to-server latencies, which 10-Gbit/s Ethernet hasn't conquered. [Ed. note: A couple days later, startup NetXen claims to have the answer to that one, too.]

We're also struck with a bit of dja vu -- after all, barely 10 years ago, Ethernet vendors claimed they'd be eating Fibre Channel's lunch. While Ethernet may dominate every other segment of the network it's ever entered, storage has proven a tougher nut to crack.

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