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'Wrap-A-Ho? Wazzat?'

Will the real successor of the PCI bus now step forward? Is it InfiniBand, or is it this new fangled thing called 3GIO, code-named Arapahoe?

At last weeks Intel Developer Forum -- a venue packed with InfiniBand promoters -- some people weren’t too sure. ”Wrap-a-Ho? What’s that about then?” asked one chip engineer cruising the show. “Arapahoe, yeah, nice mountain range. No, really, it’s the new data center interconnect, right?" said another attendee.

Wrong actually, although it’s easy to see why someone might get that impression. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), the company behind both technologies, has kept people guessing over the likely applications of InfiniBand and Arapahoe, referring to both of them as “data center interconnects” and "PCI successors" at one time or another.

It would be to easy to conclude that they’re competing technologies when, in fact, they’re complementary.

InfiniBand may have started out as a next-generation PCI bus project, but it’s now being positioned as a replacement for Ethernet in the data center, although Intel won’t come right out and say this yet. (see InfiniBand Steals the Show). The InfiniBand Trade Association however, isn't so coy. It says the aim of InfiniBand is to connect servers and storage system together in the data center.