Sun, others widen InfiniBand use

InfiniBand took a turn for the better with announcements from three companies committed to seeing the technology become more than a niche play.

Sun recently announced that the infrastructure for its server compute utility would be based on InfiniBand. The servers in this utility, which will make available their unused compute cycles for customers to use, will be interconnected with InfiniBand. Sun first mentioned its interest in InfiniBand in March 2003 when it inked a deal with Topspin, a manufacturer of host bus adapters and switches.

Sun's compute utility grids will consist of dual-processor AMD Opteron servers (as mentioned in the previous newsletter) interconnected with TopSpin InfiniBand adapters and switches.

Meanwhile, InfiniCon two weeks ago launched Version 3.0 of its architecture aimed at the high-performance business computing market. Version 3.0 includes host software, switch-embedded software and the FastFabric tool, which provides customers greater flexibility to develop compatible applications and third-party tools.

Version 3.0 has also been incorporated into server motherboards so that InfiniBand host channel adapters (HCA) are not necessary. For instance, Appro recently incorporated InfiniCon's host software in its XtremeBlade hardware, allowing it to dispatch with separate HCAs in bladed systems design.

Version 3.0 also includes performance enhancements, support for the Linux 2.6 kernel, and support for clusters with more than 1,000 nodes. In addition, Version 3.0 now is certified to run in Oracle database configurations and in Message Passing Interface environments.

Voltaire announced it has partnered with SGI to integrate Voltaire's InfiniBand interconnect with SGI's Altix 1350 clustered systems. SGI will OEM the Voltaire InfiniBand interconnect and sell it in preconfigured Altix 1350 clusters, where it will serve as a high-performance interconnect for computer-aided design, bioinformatics, oil and gas exploration and databases. SGI-Voltaire combinations are used by companies like NASA, the University of Minnesota and the Alabama Supercomputer Center.

The Altix 1350 cluster consists of as many as 16 Itanium 2 processors, the Linux OS and Voltaire hardware.

SGI also has a reseller agreement with Voltaire in which its professional services organization resells Voltaire multiprotocol switches, InfiniBand-to-IP and InfiniBand-to-Fibre Channel routers, adapters and software.

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