InfiniBand’s kiss of life?

Dell Inc. has joined IBM Corp., NEC Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. to put its faith in InfiniBand and give the high-speed technology a kiss of life after it nearly drowned in 2002.

The company has added Topspin Communication Inc.’s InfiniBand switches to its clustered server configurations, claiming it will lower the cost and increase the performance of such systems.

Available this quarter, the switches and Host Connectivity Adaptors will be available in bundled 24 and 64-node Dell HPCC configurations running Red Hat Linux, although custom cluster sizes are available. The switches will also be added to Dell certified configurations for Oracle10g later this year.

Topspin claims that its architecture reduces server I/O cost and increases scalability and flexibility by putting all server traffic over a single 10Gbps/s InfiniBand connection. It therefore also dramatically reduces the number of adapter cards, cables and switch ports required.

Nevertheless, the higher speeds that Infiniband produces — at 30Gbps, it is 10Gbps faster than Ethernet or Fibre Channel — were nearly lost after Intel and then Microsoft pulled away from the technology.

It was only when IBM agreed to integrate Topspin InfiniBand switches into some its products that the technology got its fast gasps of air. Agreements with NEC and Sun have helped, and now Dell’s decision to go with it make it look as though InfiniBand has finally arrived as a cluster interconnect.

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