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HBA duopoly blown away by 10gigE

Emulex, Mellanox get converged networking pot bubbling

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Mellanox

Mellanox, which supplies InfiniBand products for clustering and networking in high-performance computing and dedicated database and filer clusters, such as Oracle's Exadata machine and Isilon's products, is developing 10gigE technology products. It has introduced a 10gigE CNA, the ConnectX ENt, using Teranetics 10GBASE-T PHY technology. This is a dual-port card with virtualisation acceleration features and FCoE support.

Mellanox has also announced its own PHY, the PhyX, a physical interface transceiver that implements the base physical Ethernet networking layer. It's designed for 10GigE switches and pass-through modules, useful for server blades. PhyX is a 6-port device and supports all 10 Gigabit Ethernet physical layer functionality. It can be field upgraded to support FCoE and 2/4/8Gbit/s Fibre Channel gateway functionality with no change in hardware.

John Monson, Mellanox' marketing VP, is seeing a mainstream market here, much bigger than InfiniBand, and one that Mellanox can supply. He's seeing the coming into existence of a 10gigE ecosystem of base technology, adapter, cable and switch suppliers. Mellanox is demonstrating its new CNA at Interop Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada in the next few days, connected to an Arista Ethernet switch, and hoping to accelerate the ecosystem's development.

It's likely that Ethernet switch vendors of all sizes will see a growing need to provide converged server interface products using combined TCP/IP, FCoE and RDMAoE, as well as switches, and it could be that we are seeing a consolidation of adapter and switch vendors underway. For storage networking vendors it is perhaps a rude awakening to the robust and busy Ethernet adapter and switch market with all three sets of vendors, and the InfiniBand suppliers, hoping to add the others' capabilities to their products to secure their installed base and grow their addressable market.

This networking convergence, this application of 10gigE magic pixie dust, seems sure to lead to a round of supplier consolidation over the next few years as Ethernet economics propel waves of change across the market. ®

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