InfiniBand Gets a Tux

Recognizing a need to support open source technologies, a consortium of InfiniBand companies has announced the formation of the new OpenIB Alliance. The group’s first task will be to develop a common Linux implementation for InfiniBand configurations.

InfiniBand is an open-standard clustering, communication, storage and embedded interconnect with transmission rates as high as 30 gigabytes per second. Instead of sending data in parallel, InfiniBand sends data in serial and can handle multiple channels of data at a time in a multiplexing signal.

The technology is mainly used in scientific and technical high-performance applications. Computing clusters using InfiniBand range from small eight-node clusters to thousands of nodes. Several companies are bringing it to the enterprise market for clusters and other uses. Supporters point out that the development of a Linux software stack is critical to the adoption of the remote direct memory access (RDMA) configurations.

“Once the OpenIB Alliance software stack is available, customers will be empowered to build large-scale Linux Grids with heightened performance and reduced expenses,” Patrick Rogers, vice president of marketing at Network Appliance, said in a statement.

In addition to Network Appliance, several technology vendors are championing the efforts, including: Dell, Engenio Information Technologies (formerly LSI Logic Storage Systems), IBM, InfiniCon, Intel, Mellanox Technologies, Sun Microsystems, Topspin Communications, VERITAS and Voltaire. Government facilities like Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are also participating in the development and testing.

IBM has said 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.”

In its statement, the alliance said it will publish its software stack delivery schedule between July and October, with future software enhancements expected on an ongoing basis. The group is also welcoming contributions and is reportedly looking at extending its development to other operating environments.

The new group said the software stacks are complementary to the InfiniBand Trade Association’s (IBTA) InfiniBand architecture specifications.

“InfiniBand architecture is gaining momentum in enterprise deployments, and with this comes the opportunity to ensure that fabrics feature the extensive benefits envisioned by the architects of the technology,” Jim Pappas, director of initiative marketing for Intel’s Enterprise Platform Group, said in a statement.

Organizers said the group was formed outside the IBTA to prevent conflicts with the charter organization.

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