Mellanox Introduces Infiniband Prototypes
- By Scott Bekker
Although Intel Corp.
architected the Infiniband
standard, it is not the only vendor preparing to have products on the
Infiniband scene. A startup chipmaker, Mellanox
, is offering its own Infiniband prototypes to developers
Mellanox announced today
that it has prototypes of its Host Channel Adapters for connecting
servers to an Infinband network. The adapter consists of a device that slides into a PCI
slot, and enables connections of up to 2.5 Mbps. Kevin Dierling, vice president
of marketing at Mellanox, says that the company designed the device to give
vendors and partners a sense of how Infiniband operates.
Intel designed Infiniband to
replace traditional Ethernet and Fibre Channel connections in networks, for
faster device-to-device communication. It moves some hardware tasks such as SCSI
commands and IP stacks out to the edge of the network, enabling greater network
and server performance. Dierling says Inifiniband also provides improved
Quality of Service (QoS) features over IP networks or Fibre Channel.
Dierling expects to see
Infinband used first as an internal architecture within servers, then as a
connectivity standard for clustering, and other server-to-server
communications. Storage will follow, he says, beginning with NAS
implementations, then in SANs.
Vernon Turner, an analyst
with IDC Corp., believes that Infiniband has
the potential to shape the server landscape. “One of the constricting factors
of the server world is the PCI bus,” he says.
Infiniband promises to
improve the performance of networks by eliminating the I/O bottlenecks in the
PCI bus. Instead of a bus, Infiniband uses a switched architecture. The switched
architecture enables a machine to handle more I/O requests than the traditional
bus, enabling user to get the most from their network infrastructure. “You can flood
the channel and not have the limitations of the PCI bus,” Turner says.
Turner expects Intel, Mellanox,
and others to have real-world deployments of Infiniband by the second half of
this year. He believes that since Infiniband is a new technology, it will be
used initially for connecting small, dense servers, rather than high-end
database machines. Regardless, Turner is optimistic about Infiniband’s future. “This
is going to be huge,” he says,” It’s going to bring mainframe connectivity to
the Intel architecture.” - Christopher McConnell
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.