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Learn about InfiniBand

 

Learn about InfiniBand
David Gabel

One of the things that was immediately apparent to those attending the recently held Intel Developer Forum (San Francisco) was the emergence of InfiniBand as a new interconnect method.

InfiniBand is a new standard for connecting servers and storage devices, even SANs, inside a data center. It's needed, because the processors and storage devices are becoming so fast that the interconnects, such as IP links, are becoming bottlenecks.

How fast is it? One InfiniBand link runs at 2.5 Gbps, and you can gang the links in groups of two to four, so that you can get as fast as 10 Gbps. That ain't hay, as they say.

In addition, InfiniBand is a serial protocol. Such protocols send bits one at a time over a single wire or fiber link. (Parallel links, in contrast, such as a parallel interface, send multiple bits over several links at a time. This method needs considerable amounts of control signals, however, and as speeds go up, the need for control to make sure the parallel signals are in synch gets greater and greater, thus reducing effective bandwidth.

InfiniBand products are beginning to appear, and a host of companies were displaying them at the Developer Forum. Many of them, now, allow for connections to legacy equipment, but over the coming months we should start to see boxes, like disk enclosures and servers, appear with Infiniband connections. And as this gathers momentum,

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and as you begin to see your IT operations bogging down with increased intra-datacenter communications, you'll have to start moving to InfiniBand.

To get more information about InfiniBand, take a look at these links:

http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/tip/1,289483,sid5_gci810289,00.html?FromTaxonomy=%2Fpr%2F282544. This is a tip written by our expert Alan Earls on the InfiniBand Solutions Conference, held last week.

http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/bestWebLinks/0,289521,sid5_tax288116,00.html. SearchStorage best links on InfiniBand.

http://www.infinibandta.org/home. This is the InfiniBand Trade Association, which has members who are manufacturing InfiniBand hardware. It has a wealth of information about the new interconnect standard, as well as lists of providers.

http://www.intel.com/technology/infiniband/. Intel is a member of the InfiniBand Trade Association, and at this site provides an Intel InfiniBand Architecture Brochure.

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2002/02/04/windows.html. An introduction to the InfiniBand architecture.

Perusing these links will put you ahead of the power curve for InfiniBand.


David Gabel is executive technology editor for TechTarget.


This was first published in April 2002

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