Monday, November 06, 2006

Data centers converge in silicon

The real convergence in data center networking will not be on Infiniband or even Ethernet. It will be on silicon.

Thanks to Moore's Law the many different interconnects that have been vying to be the sole conduit of the data center will all live together someday in hybrid silicon. Voltaire shows us the way today with its announcement that its Infiniband switches will now support 10 Gbit/second Ethernet too, thanks to a new hybrid Infiniband/10GE ASIC.

Not long ago, Myrinet made a similar move embracing Ethernet on its proprietary clustering products. And, though it's not at the silicon level, Qlogic has been reaching beyond its mainstay Fibre Channel business to embrace Infiniband products with its acquisition of switch maker SilverStorm Technologies in October and card maker PathScale in February.

Remember when Cisco's Andiamo unit came out with its storage switches? Turned out they were not so much based around Ethernet as Fibre Channel, the rooster of the SAN roost. And guess who is the largest customer for the Infiniband chips from Mellanox Technologies? Cisco, thanks to its acquisition of Topspin in 2005.

Seems like the big players in the data center are realizing you have to have it all—Fibre Channel, Infiniband and Ethernet. And ideally, you want to get it all in a chip. –rbm

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