• 03/31/2004
    3:15 AM
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InfiniBand Ambivalence

InfiniBand Ambivalence Rumbles and grumbles continue to haunt InfiniBand

Despite the votes of confidence, the IT world remains ambivalent about InfiniBand. On one hand, the technology is stable and in use in high-performance computing (HPC) environments. On the other, the numbers aren't there yet when it comes to installation in "normal" data centers, where there's still a lot of talk about InfiniBand being too heavy an upgrade and one that has won its place in HPC only by default.

"Customers want network unity, not separate networks in the data center," says Estrin. Putting InfiniBand in place calls for installing a distinct network fabric, she asserts, with all the costs that implies.

"[A]fter some playing around with different and competing standards efforts, the industry finally rallied around Infiniband... However, even though a standard, volumes are not high, so prices are high, and if the technology is ever used between boxes (as opposed to being contained within a blade server), end users need to manage a new protocol and technology, which carries with it a high 'initialization' cost," writes Mark Hoover, president and co-founder of Acuitive Inc.

In fact, at least one source, Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group consultancy, concedes that InfiniBand could be displaced if a comparable solution that's easier and cheaper to install were to come along fast enough. "If you could prove substantially better performance, it could be a killer," he says.

Taneja is skeptical, however, about whether other solutions can materialize quickly enough to threaten InfiniBand's growth, even if that growth is relatively slow.

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