Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Swimming upstream, Part 2

As usual with press releases, yesterday's announcement from Dolphin had less substance than it promised. The company has only ported some software from startup StarGen it acquired in January to its existing Scalable Coherent Interconnect (SCI) adapter card. The new code enables a more Socket-like environment for supporting TCP, UDP, IP and other standard protocols and provides some optimization for Oracle RAC and MySQL Cluster applications.

The interesting bit is that Dolphin will rev its ASIC for a new card to ship later this year. The new chip will integrate both SCI and PCI Express, probably the 5 Gbit/s version, on a single die. Dolphin says that with the new ASIC, sustained card data rates should jump from 8 Gbit/s to more than 10 Gbits/s and application latencies should fall below 2.26 microseconds.

Dolphin knows it is swimming against the tide of momentum from Infiniband already shipping 20 Gbit/s products, albeit with higher latencies. Thus it is focusing on the still-emerging market for database clusters and it is leveraging the PCI Express juggernaut.

What this means to me is the Dolphin folk may not make any big market splashes anytime soon, but they are smart folk with plenty of good technical detail on their Web site and worth keeping an eye on.

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