IBM, Dell, Sun reaffirm commitment to Infiniband

New products due out early next year from major server vendors IBM Corp., Dell Computer Corp., and Sun Microsystems Inc. will feature the Infiniband technology for high-speed data exchange inside servers and other devices, the companies announced Thursday.

Infiniband is a standard for information exchange between processors and I/O devices on server boards. It was developed by a consortium of industry companies, including IBM, Sun, Dell, Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Microsoft Corp. to replace the PCI (peripheral component interconnect) and PCI-X (PCI-extended) technology found in most of today’s servers.

Founding members Intel and Microsoft have recently scaled back their plans to develop products with the technology, however analysts have said that the absence of such industry heavyweights doesn’t mean that Infiniband is doomed.

“Infiniband is of greatest benefit to data center-level servers,” said Subodh Bapat, chief technology officer for volume systems products at Sun, based in Santa Clara, Calif. Networking, storage, and clustering products will also reap the benefits of the new technology, he said.

IBM will roll out Infiniband in its eServer products throughout next year, initially focusing on a few models for high-performance computing and database clustering applications, said Tom Bradich, chief technology officer for IBM’s xSeries servers. The Armonk, N.Y.-based company will also offer midrange and high-end Unix servers with Infiniband technology, he said.

Sun’s next-generation data center servers will feature the technology, and the company plans to build support for the technology into the kernel layer of its flagship Solaris operating system, Bapat said. Blade servers from the company are also targets for Infiniband, and Sun’s higher-end mainframe class servers that require shared I/O devices will take advantage of the technology, he said.

Dell’s PowerEdge servers will come with Infiniband technology in both blade and conventional forms, also for the high-performance and clustering environments, said Jimmy Pike, director of server architecture for Dell, based in Round Rock, Tex.