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El Reg: How can InfiniBand move into the general data centre server networking space?

Asaf Somekh: Solutions like the HP-Oracle Database Machine are helping InfiniBand gain more share of the data center networking market. But there are many other things happening at a technology level and a macro economic level that will help InfiniBand proliferate in the data center. For example, Voltaire is doing a lot of work with leading enterprise applications such as Oracle and VMware to ensure tight integration, better I/O throughput, scalability and performance boosts for these applications.

The needs of the applications will be the drivers for InfiniBand adoption. At a business level, customers are telling us their charter from management is to get the most performance for their business-critical applications for the lowest cost. Many are turning to clusters and scale-out architectures to help them do more with less. InfiniBand is the best technology for delivering application performance in scale-out environments. It’s also about 50 per cent more energy efficient technology than 10 Gigabit Ethernet which provides additional savings on power and cooling.

Comment

Iain Stephens, HP's VP for industry standard servers in EMEA, says he's seeing customers using linked servers with direct-access storage being connected together and to accessing servers with InfiniBand, because that's the most cost-effective way to get the network I/O speed needed. That adds another strand to the InfiniBand-use-is-spreading view.

Asaf's cost point above contradicts the Cisco Ethernet economics story, but I'd guess Cisco would say that's only a minor and temporary blip, as the Ethernet tide just washes over every other network alternative thing in its path over the next few years.

It's likely that applications needing 10GigE performance now or more, plus the losslessness and better latency that InfiniBand provides will have a peek at using it. As - or if - CIOs (chief information officers) get energy cost responsibility, then that might encourage more InfiniBand takeup.

The common sense view is that Ethernet will be the prevailing interconnect in data centres. There's no InfiniBand revolution in prospect but its use does look to be spreading, particularly amongst customers who, we might say, are daring enough to use its speed.

Mind you, Voltaire isn't a reliable inspiration. The man described Canada as "a few acres of snow". ®

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