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InfiniBand Firms Eye High Performance Computing

Two leading InfiniBand switch makers Tuesday announced their presence at the LinuxWorld show with new partnerships geared to ramp up buzz for the slow-growing yet fast-moving technology.

InfiniBand is an extremely fast, low latency interconnect technology used to pipe data between processors and devices, such as computer servers. It was originally designed to replace the PCI bus in high-end servers and PCs and is an alternative to slower technologies, such as Gigabit Ethernet .

Though it became bogged down by the lagging economy in the last few years, some experts believe InfiniBand is capable of a meteoric rise in 2004, given the explosion in high performance computing (HPC), where customers are using clusters and grids to support large-scale scientific and exploratory projects.

InfiniCon Systems and Voltaire share that philosophy and backed it up Tuesday with several announcements and demonstrations at LinuxWorld in New York.

InfiniCon Combines 64-bit Processing with InfiniBand Network Fabric Technology

InfiniCon, of King of Prussia, Penn., agreed to provide a 128-node InfiniBand-based network fabric to support testing and scaling of HPC clusters at the AMD Developer Center in Sunnyvale, Calif.

InfiniCon CEO Chuck Foley told internetnews.com the InfinIO Switch family will be used as the base for the high-speed HPC fabric connecting the compute nodes. The collaboration combines AMD's 64-bit processing with InfiniCon's networking technology, which is capable of up to 30 Gbps, a far cry from the average 1 Gbps of Gigabit Ethernet.

AMD, Foley said, will be able to offer a benchmarking environment in which 10 Gbps bandwidth is available to every port, with latency characteristics reaching as low as 5 microseconds for messaging applications.

In another score for InfiniCon fabric, Foley said Pennsylvania State University (PSU) has selected InfiniCon to supply the network fabric for a 160-node High Performance Computing (HPC) cluster.

InfinIO will provide a 10 Gbps interconnect for a computing cluster that combines servers Sun Microsystems' SunFire V60x and Dell's PowerEdge 2850 running on Linux.

The HPC cluster, dubbed Pleiades, is expected to yield more than 1.3 teraflops, or 1.3 trillions of operations per second of processing power, and will be used by the university in research projects to detect gravitational waves for making astronomical discoveries.

Foley also said InfiniCon is demonstrating how its InfinIO technology helps a Linux-based server cluster run applications based on Oracle's 10g clustered database. In this demo, multiple commodity servers process a single database image collectively, offering higher levels of performance and availability.

Foley said Oracle found that using InfiniBand in lieu of Gigabit Ethernet has resulted in a tenfold increase in bandwidth, with a tenfold decrease in latency, all while dropping CPU utilization from 50 percent to 3 percent.

Voltaire and SGI Set to Show Off InfiniBand at LinuxWorld

Meanwhile, Mountain View, Calif.-based Voltaire inked an agreement with server maker SGI to craft InfiniBand-driven clusters for SGI's Altix 350 servers, according to a statement.

SGI Professional Services will offer InfiniBand switch routers, InfiniBand-to-IP and InfiniBand-to-Fibre Channel routers, InfiniBand adapters, 64-bit Linux InfiniBand software stacks, and InfiniBand fabric management software to customers seeking 64-bit Linux cluster solutions based on the SGI Altix platform.

In demonstrations at the LinuxWorld show this week, five Altix 350 nodes in two cluster configurations will be interconnected with Voltaire InfiniBand solutions in the SGI booth and two other servers will be interconnected in the Voltaire booth. The systems will run chemistry and database applications across multiple nodes.

Voltaire will also be introducing its InfiniBand Database Solution for 64-Bit Computing at LinuxWorld. The solution enables IT managers to easily move IBM DB2 and Oracle database applications from expensive high-end servers to low cost, high performance Linux clusters.

"InfiniBand is the perfect complement to 64-bit platforms, as processors such as Opteron and Itanium2 generate larger I/O traffic requiring the high bandwidth capabilities of InfiniBand," says Arun Taneja, Founder and Consulting Analyst, The Taneja Group.

"As applications scale to 64-bit platforms, it becomes even more evident that scalable clusters require the high performance that only InfiniBand can provide," states Arun Jain, Voltaire's vice president of marketing.

Voltaire also reports Sandia National Laboratories has selected Voltaire's InfiniBand technology to support a 128-node InfiniBand cluster at its Livermore, Calif., laboratory. Voltaire will deliver InfiniBand hardware and software to boost performance of server clusters for HPC applications in the second Voltaire InfiniBand cluster deployment at Sandia.

Both InfiniCon and Voltaire have been selected as inaugural members of Sun Microsystems' High Performance and Technical Computing (HPTC) Alliance Partner Program, announced today. Sun added an array of interconnect technology companies as part of the newly established Sun HPTC Alliance Partner Program to advance grid performance for its customers.

In other InfiniBand news, the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) said it has begun work on a specification to increase the performance capability of the interconnect technology beyond its current limit of 30 Gbps to push link performance beyond the 100 Gbps barrier.

The group said it will host a developers' conference Feb. 16 in San Francisco to discuss the new effort.

Story adapted from internetnews.com.

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