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QLogic Bets on InfiniBand

By acquiring PathScale, QLogic has placed a $109 million bet that InfiniBand can move beyond high-performance computing deeper into the data center. (See QLogic to Buy PathScale.)

InfiniBand has the potential to penetrate the enterprise data center,” QLogic CEO H.K. Desai said Wednesday night after announcing the deal. “We’re targeting this technology for the future to see if we can drive into the enterprise data center.”

Startup PathScale sells host channel adapters (HCAs), which are the InfiniBand equivalent of the Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs) that make up most of QLogic’s business. But while HBAs connect servers to external storage, HCAs connect servers to servers.

Indeed, QLogic doesn't intend to use InfiniBand as a SAN technology, despite the fact that other companies are doing so. “We don’t expect to have InfiniBand technology in storage,” Desai admitted. “Storage already has Fibre Channel technology and iSCSI technology. I think there’s enough technology there, and I don’t think we expect InfiniBand to penetrate storage. At least, not in the near future.”

QLogic isn’t the only company that sees the scope of InfiniBand widening. While it gained a foothold in high performance computing (HPC) because of its high speed and low latency, InfiniBand has grown beyond its established base in universities, research labs, and federal agencies -- and developers see its potential in other markets. Cisco acquired InfiniBand startup Topspin for $250 million last April and considers the technology a major piece of its virtualization push. (See Cisco Topspins Into Virtualization and Cisco Takes On Topspin.)

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