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Vol. 7 No. 3 May 2008

InfiniBand still a longshot for storage

Fibre Channel (FC) storage vendors see a need to play nice with Ethernet. That's why their vision of the next-generation data center includes a nascent FC over Ethernet (FCoE) standard as the key piece of what they consider a unified fabric. Such unification leaves little, if any, room for InfiniBand. The low-latency, high-bandwidth protocol isn't used much for storage, but has replaced Ethernet in many high-performance computing (HPC) environments. Its proponents say InfiniBand is a better fit for FC convergence than Ethernet. FC-centric storage networking vendors such as Brocade, Emulex and QLogic consider Ethernet compatibility the key to extending FC's life. So does Cisco Systems, which is primarily an Ethernet company, but competes with Brocade in the FC switching area. But InfiniBand vendors are working up their new standard, FC over InfiniBand (FCoIB). They point out that InfiniBand already supports 20Gb/sec with 40Gb/sec expected by next year, while Ethernet is at 10Gb/sec. And Ethernet won't be ready to run ...

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