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InfiniBand-wagon picks up speed

Feb 24, 20042 mins

* Activity increases around InfiniBand interconnection standard

InfiniBand got two boosts last week – Dell announced it would integrate the technology into its server clusters, and a new version of the specification was released.

Dell’s Linux supercomputing clusters, based on Dell’s PowerEdge servers, now include InfiniBand switches and host adapters from Topspin Communications. They will ship in 24- and 64-node configurations in the first quarter of 2004. Dell also will add the switches to Oracle 10g cluster configurations later this year. 

Topspin has been the most successful of the InfiniBand vendors. It has announced partnerships with HP, IBM, NEC, RLX Technologies and Oracle for clustering servers and shared storage. Sun is developing servers that contain the Topspin technology.

The new InfiniBand specification introduces signaling rates of 5G bit/sec or 10G bit/sec, allowing bandwidth of 120G bit/sec. The current speed of InfiniBand is 2.5G bit/sec. The InfiniBand specification can be downloaded from

Other recent InfiniBand developments include:

* Storage vendors are slowly adopting InfiniBand. Each of Network Appliance’s FAS960 and FAS940 file servers has a JNI (acquired by AMCC) host adapter in it that allows it to be clustered with another file server.

* Topspin demonstrated at the Intel Developers Forum last week the use of InfiniBand to interconnect servers with PCI Express into a computing cluster.

* InfiniBand chip manufacturer Mellanox launched a Host Channel Adapter (HCA) for placement in servers. The InfiniHost III is three times faster than previous HCAs, Mellanox claims. It has two ports and uses a PCI Express interface to give InfiniBand capabilities to servers that are PCI Express-enabled.