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InfiniCon Systems' InfinIO 7000 Shared I/O System is a 10Gbit/sec. switch that allows servers to communicate directly with one another. The switch is aimed at reducing external connections in high-availability server clusters by up to half.
"The shared I/O focus is a good way to encourage the market to start [using InfiniBand]," said Arun Taneja, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "The question is, are enough pieces in place?"
Complete InfiniBand architectures would include switches, host bus adapters (HBA) and software. Vendors working on InfiniBand software due for release early next year include VIEO and Lane15 Software. HBA vendors such as JNI and Mellanox Technologies also have products in the pipeline.
The InfinIO 7000 switch lets servers connect into a single high-speed InfiniBand link and integrate with existing Fibre Channel and Ethernet networks. InfiniCon chief executive officer Chuck Foley said the switch removes the need for Fibre Channel HBAs and Ethernet network interface cards.
InfinIO consists of dual 10Gbit/sec. InfiniBand 4X switch modules and up to eight plug-and-play I/O modules supporting Gigabit Ethernet, 2Gbit Fibre Channel and 10Gbit InfiniBand expansion cards. Chassis slots can be populated with any mix of the modules and hot-swapped as needed. List prices for the switch run from $26,740 (£17,000) to $84,320 (£54,000).
Intel and Microsoft recently announced that they were stopping development work related to the emerging server I/O technology. Intel dropped its plans for InfiniBand-related chips in May, while Microsoft last month said it no longer plans to build InfiniBand management capabilities into the upcoming Windows .net Server 2003 operating system.
But Taneja said he was till confident that InfiniBand would become a data centre fixture within the next couple years. Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystems are still solidly behind InfiniBand, he noted, adding, "Those are the players who are going to make InfiniBand a volume technology."