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Voltaire: Bringing Low Latency Networking to Main Street

The latest vendor to enter the unified network race is Voltaire. The company on Monday unveiled its new scale-out Ethernet architecture and its first product based on the new architecture -- a high-capacity/low-latency layer 2 Ethernet core switch. I consider this announcement a milestone for the industry because it represents how CEE is a vehicle for InfiniBand vendors to bring technology and expertise from high-performance computing (HPC) to high-performance "business" computing. Specifically, Voltaire is at the forefront of what will become a broader industry trend to make ultra-low-latency Ethernet networking pervasive. Some data centers can benefit from it today and, in the future, I expect the capability will be built into leading CEE adapters and switches.
Voltaire is the market leader for InfiniBand switches used in high-performance computing. HPC is the market where scientists and engineers harness massive compute power to run their simulations for applications such as airplane design, genetic modeling and predicting the weather. Instead of scaling "up" proprietary and expensive supercomputers as they did in the past, HPC architects scale "out" with clusters of commodity servers connected by ultra-low-latency InfiniBand networks. With the biggest HPC clusters scaling up to a thousand nodes or more, InfiniBand fabrics from Voltaire deliver latency in low single digit microseconds.

I expect Voltaire's new Scale Out Ethernet architecture and products to help accelerate the deployment of low latency networks for high-performance business computing used by Wall Street. According to Wikipedia and Automated Trader News, over 40 percent of London Stock Exchange trades were automated in 2006 and over 60 percent of the NYSE trades were automated during one week in 2008. So, the use of low-latency networking for automated trading of equities, options, derivatives and FX is here to stay and will grow as a key battleground for financial companies vying for competitive advantage. In this market, architects that only a few years ago accepted latencies of hundreds of milliseconds are now quietly deploying InfiniBand networks that can respond in microseconds. For Wall Street IT pros that haven't yet made the switch to InfiniBand, the new Ethernet switch products from Voltaire provide a way for them to design a network with microsecond latency while leveraging their investment in Ethernet infrastructure and expertise.

Later this year, Voltaire will offer a high capacity CEE core switch for high-performance business computing and large enterprise data centers. Within two years, I expect you will see CEE edge switches and converged network adapters that are sized and priced for Main Street. When that happens, I expect microsecond latency to become a check list item for a data center architects that are designing networks for performance. If you want to check out Voltaire's new scale-out Ethernet architecture, read their white paper at