30-Gig InfiniBand Makes Its Debut

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InfiniBand switch start-ups InfiniCon Systems, Topspin, and Voltaire have released the first 30 gigabit per second InfiniBand switches.

With pricing as low as $300-$700 per port, the switches are 50-75% cheaper than 2Gb Fibre Channel and 98% cheaper than 10Gb Ethernet.

“The breakthrough levels in performance and price … will continue to make InfiniBand fabrics increasingly attractive for the emerging HPC market,” states Vernon Turner, IDC’s group vice president of Global Enterprise Server Solutions.

Turner told Enterprise Storage Forum that 30Gbps, or 12X in InfiniBand lingo, “is currently the top end of InfiniBand offerings.” Other InfiniBand speeds are 2.5Gbps (1X) and 10Gbps (4X).

“Typically, for high data transfer in dense solutions, such as large clusters, you would want to use the 30Gbps [switches],” Turner says, adding that the InfiniBand Trade Association is working on even faster links.

The offerings by InfiniCon, Topspin, and Voltaire are based on Mellanox’s new 30Gbps chip, the InfiniScale III.

“The standard has been ready for a while, but it’s quite a technical challenge to get signal rates that high,” explained InfiniCon CEO Chuck Foley, in an interview with ESF.

InfiniCon’s InfinIO 9024 provides up to twenty-four 10Gbps InfiniBand ports, as many as eight 30Gbps ports, or a combination of the two. With just 1U of rack space, InfiniCon says the 9024 offers as much as 480Gbps of non-blocking, full bisectional bandwidth in less space than a single traditional
rack-mounted server.

Foley says he doesn’t expect much 30Gbps use just yet, calling 10Gbps “the sweet spot for HPC right now.”

Combined with InfiniCon’s intelligent InfinIO Software Suite, the company says fabrics comprised of hundreds or thousands of servers can be scaled and managed by users easily and with high availability. The InfinIO 9024 will be available in January, and Foley reports the company is planning to release a director class switch next year with more than 100 ports.

The Voltaire ISR 9024 offers several options of port mixes, including twenty-four 10Gbps ports, four 30Gbps ports, and twelve 30Gbps ports with copper and optical interfaces. The ISR 9024 can be managed with the standards-based VoltaireVision InfiniBand Fabric Management Software, or with customers’ existing management systems using standard protocols such as SNMP or InfiniBand baseboard management.

The Topspin 120 is a 1U, stackable, 24-port InfiniBand switching solution with built-in redundancy and management capabilities. It provides 480Gbps of aggregate bandwidth, and is capable of supporting both 10Gbps and 30Gbps InfiniBand connections to servers. Multiple Topspin 120s can be cascaded together to build HPC clusters of tens to hundreds of nodes, according to the company. When combined with the Topspin 90 or 360 Server Switch with Ethernet and Fibre Channel gateways, a high-performance server cluster can be connected to network and storage resources.

Topspin also announced the EX Ethernet Gateway, an appliance that provides high-performance InfiniBand-to-Ethernet routing capabilities for connecting an InfiniBand-attached server cluster with Ethernet-attached LANs or network-attached storage (NAS). The Topspin EX is a 10Gb Ethernet-capable design that provides six auto-sensing gigabit Ethernet ports and almost 11 million packets per second of throughput, “significantly outperforming any other InfiniBand-to-Ethernet product on the market,” the company claims. With load balancing and aggregation capabilities, a single Topspin EX gateway can support a cluster of tens or hundreds of nodes.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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