Sun Microsystems Inc has maintained its commitment to the InfiniBand switch fabric architecture, breathing new life into a technology that at one stage this year looked destined to be forgotten.
Santa Clara, California-based Sun said it will use InfiniBand in its future server, storage and software products, including horizontally scalable blade servers, which are due for availability in 2004. The company said it expects applications running on InfiniBand-enabled servers to demonstrate significantly improved performance.
InfiniBand is a high-speed, low-latency switch fabric architecture with advanced features for I/O interconnects that offers link speeds from 2.5Gbps to 30Gbps. It was first released as a draft specification in April 2000 and has been seen as one of the potential solutions to the problem of processing bottlenecks.
InfiniBand's potential for becoming the chosen solution to the problem took a knock in May when Intel Corp stepped away from its commitment to ship InfiniBand interconnect chips in favor of a renewed focus on developing the PCI Express internal PC bus replacement technology. That was followed in August by Microsoft Corp's decision to discontinue the development of native InfiniBand, believing customers would prefer to extend existing Ethernet networking technology.
At that stage it looked like the hopes for InfiniBand had been dashed, although Hitachi Ltd confirmed that it had a pulse in September by investing in networking start-up Voltaire Inc. Sun's commitment, although not expected to bear fruit for some time, is much more significant and indicates that there is future for InfiniBand after all.