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Mellanox targets Fibre Channel with 56 Gbps FDR InfiniBand

Virtualised apps can chat across a network at the same speed of intra-server comms

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Mellanox is confidently predicting the slow death of Fibre Channel, as it rips the wrapping paper off a 56 Gbps FDR InfiniBand solution it says offers ten times faster live migration of Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual machines.

Marketing VP Kevin Deierling believes the march of RDMA-enabled Ethernet and InfiniBand systems, along with the shift of workloads to the cloud, is going to continue driving Fibre Channel into a shrinking niche.

“On the data I have, almost two-thirds of workloads will be in the cloud by 2016, compared to those in the traditional data centre,” he said. And that will be bad news for Fibre Channel, since Deierling believes cloud data centres are being built without Fibre Channel.

“Fibre Channel retains some inertia, but with declining ports and revenue, it's in trouble,” he said.

The way cloud environments are being built, he said, means the cloud runs “closer to its capacity … in the cloud, there isn't going to be a second network. The data centre will be built on InfiniBand or on 40 Gbps Ethernet, and in both cases, it has remote direct memory access (RDMA).”

Which brings us back to the vaunted Windows Server 2012 R2 and SMB integration: running RDMA over InfiniBand and Ethernet and cutting the processor out of inter-VM communications leaves around 88 percent of the processor's cycles available for the application, the company says, compared to just 53 percent without RDMA.

On the company's 56 Gbps InfiniBand kit, Deierling said, apps are communicating across the network as fast as if they were on the same machine. “That allows people to build enormous clouds, huge deployments because the storage can behave the same in terms of throughput and IOPS wherever it is”.

It's also a big performance boost for database apps, with Deierling saying users are seeing a hundredfold performance improvement on MS SQL 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse compared to their legacy deployment, and getting faster database ingest performance. ®

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