Voltaire Ltd. has announced the industry's first Server System Infrastructure (SSI)-compliant InfiniBand switch for blade server systems. Available now, the Voltaire 40 Gb/s InfiniBand Blade Switch Module is the first InfiniBand blade switch to comply with SSI specifications. Dawning Information Industry Co. will demonstrate the Voltaire switch as part of its introduction of the new TC3600 Blade System, the first blade computing system to fully comply with SSI standards.
Industry-wide standards for blade computing systems are the concern of the SSI Forum, a server industry group chartered with the development of server infrastructure standards. The Voltaire 40 Gb/s InfiniBand Blade Switch Module ensures interoperability across industry-standard blade computing systems. In the case of the SSI standard for blades, physical and logical connections as well as overall physical form factors are specified, with a goal of allowing blades and chassis from different vendors to operate with one another in the same way that products designed for PCI, SATA, and other hardware standards now interoperate.
The Voltaire 40 Gb/s InfiniBand Blade Switch Module features fourteen 40 Gb/s internal ports for server connectivity and sixteen external QSFP ports for fabric connectivity. Beyond the basic speed and capacity, the switch is designed to be a green choice for IT, consuming only 4 watts of power per port.
Asked about the importance of SSI compliance, Voltaire vice president of marketing Asaf Somekh says, "I really believe in SSI. We're seeing a great momentum to the benefit of users as we standardize on the various aspects of computers like NICs, rack size, et cetera." He continues, "In the blade environment, where we've seen proprietary form factors of blades, they're using completely different designs when it comes to servers and switches, so you have to have blades designed for each individual vendor's chassis. This wasn't for the benefit of the end users, even though the blade architecture itself was. You suddenly saw, from the end user perspective, if I bought a blade system from vendor A, I couldn't buy another system from Vendor B and exchange blades between the two."
Somekh says that Voltaire, selling primarily through OEMs, is a good perch from which to view the evolving state of blade architectures. "Our revenue is mostly generated through our OEM vendors, with HP and IBM in the lead, and we had to develop special form factors for each one. In general, bladed environments have created new problems around efficiency in the industry. With SSI we developed a single product built around a standard, and many different vendors can use it. I believe SSI will benefit the industry and end users."