Comdex features InfiniBand, iSCSI wares

Storage vendors at Comdex showed off gear they say is necessary for faster, more efficient network and storage infrastructures.

Among the announcements:

    InfiniCon Systems, an InfiniBand Trade Association storage start-up, is previewing a multiprotocol device for InfiniBand, Ethernet and Fibre Channel nets.Storage vendor JNI Corp. is rolling out InfiniBand adapters for server clustering and attachment of storage devices.Adaptec Inc. is unveiling iSCSI and Fibre Channel over IP storage and faster network adapters.InfiniCon will preview its first product, a multiprotocol device that acts as a gateway between InfiniBand-based servers and Ethernet devices; as a bridge from InfiniBand servers to Fibre Channel storage equipment; and as an InfiniBand switch for clustering groups of servers. It is expected to ship early next year.

InfiniBand is a 2.5Gbps, point-to-point server interconnect technology that lets multiple I/O devices make requests for data of the system CPU at the same time without delays or congestion. It is an alternative to slower, more congested serial bus-based technologies, such as the Peripheral Component Interconnect and Extended PCI, which handle only one request at a time.

“The whole idea is these components are a migratory approach to native InfiniBand,” says James Gruener, an analyst with the Yankee Group Inc., who says InfiniBand will gather steam between now and 2004. “Today’s servers in the next few years will be able to take advantage of host bus adapters that understand InfiniBand and can communicate with an InfiniBand switch and eventually InfiniBand devices that are on the network.”

Users need InfiniBand to relieve bus congestion and increase an application’s access to memory. Network managers will most likely install InfiniBand servers, switches and adapters in Internet data centres where the technology will cluster servers to increase computational power, or in database operations that are I/O-intensive.

JNI, an established maker of Fibre Channel adapters, will expand that line by unveiling two InfiniBand adapters.

The InfiniStar IBP-1×02 2.5Gbps dual-port adapter is a one-channel device that will connect PCI-based servers into clusters used to run high-availability, transaction-intensive applications.

The second, the InfiniStar IBP-4×02 dual-port adapter, operates at 10Gbps and will be used to connect servers to up to four storage devices. Both will be available in the first quarter of 2002 for US$2,500 and US$3,500, respectively.

Adaptec is launching three adapters – one that handles the transfer of SCSI storage data over Ethernet, one that off-loads TCP/IP processing from the server and one that can be used to bridge storage-area networks (SAN).

The ASA-7211 iSCSI Adapter is installed on a server and lets file-oriented and block-level storage data be transferred over an IP network. The 7211 is also one of the first adapters that removes TCP/IP processing from the server CPU, thus increasing performance.

Observers estimate that offloading TCP/IP reduces CPU work by half. Adaptec’s implementation puts TCP/IP processing in hardware rather than software, increasing performance by an additional 30 per cent, according to the company.

The ANA-7211 TCP/Offload Adapter processes the TCP/IP stack and resides in the network server, letting the server reserve CPU cycles for applications such as Web serving or caching.

The ASR-7500 FCIP Adapter is used to bridge SANs together so they can communicate with each other or create fault-tolerant disaster-recovery sites.