Intel to demo first end-to-end Infiniband network

As a primer to this week's Intel Developer's Forum (IDF) in San Jose, Calif., Intel Corp. on Monday announced it will demonstrate the first fully operational Infiniband network. Infiniband is a switched-fabric I/O technology that links servers to networking and storage devices.

The complete Infiniband "fabric" demonstration will be composed of Infiniband products from Intel and seven other companies: Adaptec Inc., Agilent Technologies Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Computer Associates International Inc., Crossroads Systems Inc., LSI Logic Corp., and QLogic Corp., said Jim Pappas, director of initiative marketing for Intel's enterprise platform group.

The IDF demo is the first complete end-to-end demonstration of a working Infiniband network and addresses many common issues such as server clustering and mixed vendor environments, according to Pappas.

"This [demo] is really running on real Infiniband; in the past it's just been prototypes," Pappas said.

Running a number of clustered Compaq servers, Intel's Infiniband demo will carry both networking and storage traffic and perform a data-heavy e-business application using two operating systems, Windows 2000 and Linux, Pappas said. Intel's Infiniband network will also connect to both SCSI and Fibre Channel adapters.

"You'll be able to see multiple components running across multiple vendor platforms," Pappas said.

Pappas credits the success of the Infiniband demo with Intel's proactive effort to get vital Infiniband components into the hands of equipment manufacturers.

The Infiniband Host Channel Adapter, Infiniband Switch, and Infiniband Target Channel Adapter were made available to computer manufacturers such as Compaq last January, but will not officially ship until the end of this year, according to Phil Brace, the director of platform marketing for the fabric components division at Intel, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Intel predicts an industrywide transition from bus-based I/O architectures to Infiniband, eventually replacing even PCI technology, according to officials.

To drive that transition, Intel will open an Infiniband Interoperability Lab by mid-year to allow makers of Infiniband components to test their products' compatibility with Intel's Infiniband products, Pappas said.

Following last October's release of Version 1.0 of the Infiniband specification, products have been steadily arriving.

A majority of the industry's largest players support Infiniband as active members of the Infiniband Trade Association, but smaller companies have been first to market with new Infiniband products.

Mellanox Technologies Inc., in Santa Clara, Calif. recently introduced its InfiniBridge family of Infiniband switches and adapters.

Likewise, Austin, Texas-based Banderacom recently announced the availability of its IBandit prototype chip set and product development kit. The 10GBps IBandit Infiniband architecture will allow hardware developers to get a jump on developing their own Infiniband systems, officials said.

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