Intel Reveals First Products For New I/O Spec

Intel Corp. Tuesday announced the first three products that it plans to ship based on a new I/O (input/output) specification that promises to change the way that servers are used and deployed in the data center.

Called InfiniBand, the I/O standard is expected provide a simpler way for linking together groups of servers, or for attaching servers to server-related systems such as remote storage and networking devices. The new specification also promises a throughput rate much faster than the PCI (peripheral component interconnect) bus used in current Intel servers.

The InfiniBand Trade Association hopes to deliver version 1.0 of the InfiniBand specification in September or October of this year, Mike Fister, vice president of Intel's enterprise platforms group, said at a press briefing here.

InfiniBand emerged late last year as a result of a compromise between two opposing groups of hardware vendors, each of which was promoting a different next-generation server I/O. Members of the InfiniBand Trade Association who are steering the technology include Intel, Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Dell Computer Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Intel announced three InfiniBand products Tuesday that the chip giant expects to deliver to server makers next year. They are:-- an InfiniBand host channel adapter, which will connect servers into a broad InfiniBand network within Internet and corporate data centers;-- an InfiniBand switch, which will serve as the center of the InfiniBand network and connect servers to remote storage and networking devices-- the InfiniBand target channel adapter, which will provide the connection between storage and/or networking devices within an InfiniBand network, or InfiniBand "fabric" as Intel prefers to call it.

Intel also announced an InfiniBand development kit due early next year that includes host channel adapters, an InfiniBand switch and supporting software; and a licensing program that allows other chip makers to license Intel technology to create InfiniBand products.

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