InfiniBand Hits the Accelerator

High-speed switch and adapter options proliferate at ISC

June 17, 2008

3 Min Read
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The long-term roadmap for InfiniBand is starting to take shape, with high-speed switches and adapters grabbing attention at the International Supercomputer Conference in Dresden, Germany, this week.

First up is Voltaire, which announced plans to develop a 40-Gbit/s switch based on high-speed silicon from Mellanox today.

Voltaires first 40-Gbit/s Quad Data Rate (QDR) switches will be available in late 2008, and the vendor is already touting the technology as a way for users to boost high-performance applications.

”The requirement for server I/O keeps rising with the higher capabilities that servers are getting,” says Asaf Somekh, Voltaire’s vice president of strategic alliances. “You see more and more cores going into processors -- and faster and faster cores.”

The vendor also expects that 40-Gbit/s InfiniBand will eventually push the interconnect out of its HPC niche, driven largely by the growing popularity of solid state disks (SSDs) and entertainment applications such as video on demand.”Those customers are coming to us now and telling us that they need something fast for these applications," says Somekh. “You need a strong network to push that type of data, but [this will all be] in 2009 and beyond.”

Voltaire’s 20-Gbit/s InfiniBand switches are already used within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Roadrunner supercomputer, which is expected to top the list of the world’s fastest machines, set to be unveiled at ISC tomorrow.

InfiniBand use is certainly growing, according to analyst firm IDC, which estimates that the number of InfiniBand switch ports shipped will grow by 54.5 percent between 2006 and 2011, prompting a flurry of activity from vendors.

“This week we will [also] have several storage-related announcements,” adds Voltaire’s Somekh, but he would not reveal specific details. The vendor nonetheless seems likely to flesh out its cross-certification deal with LSI, which was announced last month.

Voltaire will also be demoing a long-distance InfiniBand solution at ISC, using the interconnect to transfer data across distances of around 50 kilometers (32 miles). “This is addressing the needs of distributed, campus-type data centers, and data centers in areas such as New York and New Jersey,” explains Somekh.Voltaire is not the only vendor eying 40-Gbit/s InfiniBand. Sun, for example, recently announced plans for a high-speed, 40-Gbit/s version of its Magnum device, which it has described as the world’s largest InfiniBand switch.

SAN specialist QLogic will also be busy on the banks of the River Elbe this week, unveiling its first 20-Gbit/s InfiniBand host channel adapter (HCA) tomorrow. Touted by QLogic as “the world’s fastest HCA,” the adapter, which is available now, is priced from around $400.

”It has been installed in five to seven large cluster installations at the end-user level,” says Amit Vashi, vice president of marketing for QLogic’s host solutions, explaining that the 7200 Series competes directly with Mellanox’s ConnectX offering.

The InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) also unveiled its latest link speed roadmap at ISC today, which estimates that the interconnect could reach a bandwidth of nearly 1000 Gbit/s by 2011.

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  • IDC

  • InfiniBand Trade Association

  • LSI Corp. (NYSE: LSI)

  • Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX)

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA)

  • Voltaire Inc.0

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