InfiniBand Use Spreads as Networks Get Faster

Still a minority data center option, InfiniBand is growing faster than expected

March 31, 2008

2 Min Read
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InfiniBand is gaining momentum as a data center interconnect favorite.

IDC has released figures that show worldwide factory revenue from InfiniBand adapters grew 44 percent in 2007 to almost $90 million. InfiniBand switch port factory revenue rose 90 percent to $181 million.

"It's still a relatively small market comparatively speaking," says Stephen L. Josselyn, IDC research director of Global Enterprise Server Solutions. His group predicts that InfiniBand adapters will show a 35 percent compound annual growth rate through 2011, and switch port revenues will grow at an estimated average of 47.2 percent in the same timeframe.

There are other signs of InfiniBand's increased popularity: In a note to clients last week, analyst Tom Curlin of RBC Capital Markets credits an "improved InfiniBand contribution" as one of the factors that has helped QLogic execute "comfortably to date in the March quarter."

InfiniBand also showed growth in the top 500 Supercomputers list in November 2007, though it remains about one quarter of the overall data center interconnects used in the supercomputer centers polled worldwide. The next figures will be released following a supercomputing conference slated for June 1720 in Dresden, Germany.InfiniBand's link to storage is strengthening, too. "We see an uptick in native InfiniBand connections for storage devices, but the market is very small," says analyst Jeff Boles of the Taneja Group. He thinks InfiniBand will continue to see growth for the next couple of years.

After that, there are signs that InfiniBand may not maintain a hockey stick curve long term. While industry sources such as Sun EVP John Fowler view InfiniBand as a ready-made solution for high-speed data center interconnect today, it's likely that 10-Gbit/s Ethernet and FCOE could eventually replace it -- perhaps within three years.

For now, though, both of those technologies are lagging. "Even in 2008, we won't see a large 10-Gbit/s deployment," says Thad Omura, VP of product marketing at Mellanox. From a standards perspective, he thinks FCOE is at least two years off from deployment, owing to work required to make Ethernet more reliable. Proprietary solutions could come by the end of this year, he thinks. "But people will be hesitant, they want industry-standard solutions in storage," he says.

In the meantime, Omura and others are looking at the next upgrade of InfiniBand, to 40 Gbit/s. Omura says that public demos in 2007 of 40-Gbit/s InfiniBand could lead to the first cluster demonstrated at another venue, the SC08 conference in Austin, Texas, in November 2008. Whether or not Mellanox will be part of that remains to be seen. The vendor is also active in 10-Gbit/s Ethernet and FCOE efforts.

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  • IDC

  • Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX)

  • RBC Capital Markets0

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