Monday, August 13, 2007

Banging the Infiniband drum

The folks at Intel continue to promote Infiniband as a high-speed interconnect in the data center. Next month, they will help launch the InfiniBand Low Latency Technical Forum, co-located with the Fall Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. (Intel provides discounts for engineers attending both events.) The event is co-sponsored by the InfiniBand Trade Association and the Open Fabrics Alliance which maintains a common software stack for Infiniband and high-performance Ethernet.

The Sept. 17 event is really a follow on to last year's IBTA and OFA Joint Developer's Conference that kicked off IDF. The link to last year's presentations is not currently live, but as I recall it was a mix of case studies of Infiniband success in core markets such as technical computing clusters and new territories such as large commercial database systems. I would expect to hear more of the same this year as Intel tries to drive IB beyond its technical niche and more into the enterprise mainstream.

I don't doubt Infiniband will always have a latency edge over any flavor of Ethernet, and often it will also have a throughput advantage. But with all the activity and energy going into 10G Ethernet, backplane Ethernet, the proposed higher-speed standards at 40G and 100G and the work on Fibre Channel over Ethernet, the advantages of Infiniband may narrow over time, making its shift from technical to enterprise markets increasingly difficult.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You say "I don't doubt Infiniband will always have a latency edge over any flavor of Ethernet".

Are you aware of Myricom's MX-over-Ethernet? It's 2us, as fast as a regular Myrinet Express over Myricom's fabric. That's far better than any flavor of Infiniband so far. InfiniPath does better but only in a NON-InfiniBand compatible mode.

Things might change when ConnectX hardware finally appears for real on the market, nobody has been able to see its 1.2us latency outside of Mellanox so far.