Big Blue Jumps on InfiniBand Wagon - EnterpriseStorageForum.com

Big Blue Jumps on InfiniBand Wagon

IBM gave a ringing endorsement to InfiniBand technology today, with the announcement of a five-year agreement with InfiniBand start-up Topspin Communications.

IBM will include Topspin's InfiniBand switch technology on IBM systems and will resell Topspin's switches to customers worldwide. The agreement gives IBM access to current and future versions of Topspin's server switches and software for use across the IBM eServer and TotalStorage product lines.

The deal is a huge win for Topspin, but even more importantly, it may finally be the big breakthrough InfiniBand has been waiting for.

"IB isn't ever going to be the zillion dollar market everyone thought," says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "But it is going to happen, and it is going to be over a billion, and Topspin is stealing its way unfair share of the OEM ecosystem."

"IBM, along with every other server vendor on the planet, is going to use InfiniBand because it's going to be the killer infrastructural play that makes infrastructural applications move into the new millennium, performance- and scale-wise," Duplessie told Enterprise Storage Forum. "The best part is customers don't even know what they are in for. In a few months, IBM, Sun, and others will be showing them commodity server platforms that scale beyond belief, and that accelerate their Oracle or DB2 by 500%. This stuff is going to spread faster than a brush fire within a year."

Brendan Coffey, IBM's program director for eServer technologies, calls the announcement "a pivotal moment for InfiniBand technology."

"InfiniBand is real, and we're pursuing it across our eServer product line," Coffey told ESF.

As the only industry-standard interconnect with scalability up to 30Gbps, and features like remote direct memory access (RDMA), Coffey says InfiniBand is a natural for improving server communication, performance, manageability, and scalability.

"I don't think you can find those traits in any other technology," he adds.

InfiniBand is mainly used in scientific and technical high-performance applications, but Coffey says he sees it spreading to the enterprise market for clusters and other uses.

IBM reports it plans to make InfiniBand "a base technology for all IBM eServer systems and storage, and the underlying fabric for future initiatives around on-demand computing." Big Blue says it sees the technology as "a single, unifying I/O fabric for the data center."

MCNC, a non-profit corporation that promotes technology-based economic development in North Carolina, is working with Topspin and IBM on a 64-node cluster.

"Our initial performance data indicates significant improvement using Topspin's server switch, much faster than Gig-E and most proprietary interconnects," says Steve Woods, principal systems analyst with MCNC Grid Computing and Networking Services. "Especially key is the low latency and high bandwidth that the solution delivers."

Under terms of the agreement, IBM has the right to resell Topspin's current and future generation 4X (10Gbps) and 12X (30Gbps) Server Switch portfolio for the high-performance computing and database clustering markets for use with IBM eServer pSeries, zSeries, iSeries, and xSeries systems.

Topspin products are completing IBM Server Proven certification, and have already been IBM TotalStorage Proven and validated for sale with IBM DB2 Universal Database on xSeries servers.

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