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Can Topspin Boot Egenera?

Topspin Communications Inc. claims it can use InfiniBand gear to build virtualization blade servers that will drive utility computing.

If you believe the Topspin spin, this technology gives it a big jump on its InfiniBand rivals, plus the leverage to slam the virtualization door on startup Egenera Inc.

But executives for Egenera and InfiniBand rival Voltaire Inc. contend that Topspin's latest technology gives it no real advantage.

Let's take it from the top. Topspin calls its new solution Boot over InfiniBand. It consists of three key parts: a new remote-boot version of Topspin's host channel adapter (HCA), a server switch, and Ethernet or Fibre Channel gateways for connecting to application images on a NAS or SAN.

Topspin says this setup lets diskless servers run in a "stateless" fashion, automatically allocating resources and allowing customers to provision any combination of application, operating system, storage, and I/O to a server in the time it takes to reboot. Traditional servers already have this so-called boot-over capability, but Topspin is the first InfiniBand vendor to offer it.

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