Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Interconnect Wars: InfiniBand Fights Back

When it comes to storage industry interconnects, much of the focus lately on been on the battle between Fibre Channel and iSCSI, the development of new technologies like Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet, or Cisco's plans for Data Center Ethernet. Much less attention has been given to the high-speed interconnect known as InfiniBand, and proponents of the technology are tired of being neglected.

This week, InfiniBand vendors launched a batch of new products and a marketing counteroffensive at the Supercomputing 2008 show in Austin, Texas, to convince businesses that the high-performance interconnect deserves a place in the enterprise data center.

"InfiniBand is all about performance and all about interoperability," says Brian Sparks, director of marketing communications at Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: MLNX) and co-chair of the marketing working group at the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA). "If you look at the top 500 supercomputers, InfiniBand has grown from 30 in the top 500 in 2005 to 142 today. That's more than 25 percent. And supercomputers that use proprietary interconnects have dwindled."

The reason, he says, is performance. The new quad data rate (QDR) InfiniBand can hit data rates of 40 Gbit/s node-to-node and are expected to achieve speeds of 80 Gbit/s by 2011. "We can see that eventually going to 160 Gbit/s," he says. And the technology can achieve switch-to-switch speeds of 120 Gbit/s.

That's one reason analysts continue to predict strong growth for the technology. IDC forecasts a compounded annual growth rate for host channel adapter revenues of 35 percent, with sales hitting $279.7 million in 2011. The growth rate for InfiniBand switch revenues is forecast at 47.2 percent, hitting $656.3 million in the same year. In a March report, IDC predicted that InfiniBand will expand out of the high-performance computing market into mainstream data centers.

  • 1