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Mellanox Builds Bridges for Data Center Connectivity

Mellanox Technologies at VMworld Europe this week is demonstrating a new line of bridges that are designed to converge and unify I/O within data centers. The BridgeX line will link InfiniBand to Ethernet and Fibre Channel and Ethernet to Fibre Channel.

"This lets you use wiring protocol and connect legacy systems to LANs to SANs," says Gilad Shainer, the company's director of technical marketing. "Data centers can be designed to be efficient without any unutilized resources with a family of boxes that are easy to manage and support."

Mellanox says it is providing enterprises with the flexibility that is not available with other approaches to building a unified fabric in the data center, which Shainer says force IT managers to use a specific protocol or transport for I/O consolidation. "The right way is to use one physical wire but have the ability to run any protocol over that wire. That's how you get a very efficient and green data center," he says.

The company has built a single silicon device that can provide all of the conversions and plans to sell a family of boxes under the Mellanox name. That will help to eliminate the use of network adapters and software-based protocol conversions, which can slow performance, he says. The BridgeX approach is to encapsulate traffic, which Shainer says makes it simple to manage, uses less power, and lets the network perform at wire speeds.

"You can drop it into your data center and get rid of unnecessary networks," he argues. Enterprises that are running InfiniBand for a high-performance computing network and Fibre Channel for storage can added a BridgeX to the InfiniBand network and get rid of the Fibre Channel hardware. Others that are using Ethernet and Fibre Channel can add a BridgeX and get rid of Fibre Channel. This approach lets companies deploy converged 40 Gbit/s InfiniBand networks, he says.

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