A group of high-performance computing users and technology suppliers led by Sun Microsystems, Dell and Intel will launch an effort to make the InfiniBand input/output architecture easier to use with Linux.
The OpenIB Alliance will work to build a common set of software utilities and InfiniBand hardware drivers as well as an implementation of a number of networking protocols, including IP (Internet Protocol) over InfiniBand, and the Message Passing Interface (MPI) protocol used in high-performance computing.
"It's really focused on interoperability and getting all these companies cooperatively working on the marketplace around this software stack," said Stan Skelton, senior director of strategic planning with Engenio Information Technologies.
Other companies involved in the alliance include Topspin Communications, Network Appliance, Mellanox Technologies, Voltaire and Infinicon Systems.
Two InfiniBand users - Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - will be involved in the effort.
"Until now, each IHV [independent hardware vendor] has had to roll their own InfiniBand stack," said an OpenIB Alliance participant. "There's been a lot of duplicated effort and a lot of competition where there could be cooperation," he said.
Although InfiniBand hardware suppliers have provided their own proprietary software for use with InfiniBand, the OpenIB Alliance will mark the first time they have pooled resources to release software under an open-source licence.
"Now it's open source, so in addition to pooling the resources of the [suppliers] we're engaging the user community, both in terms of being able to get patches and bug fixes, but also in terms of giving them a real voice in terms of how we're trying to harness the stack," he said.
Eventually, project leaders would like the software to be a part of the standard Linux kernel, the source said.
The OpenIB Alliance will release software under two separate open-source licences, Skelton said. They are the BSD licence used by the Berkeley Software Distribution operating system, and the GNU General Public Licence, used by Linux.
"While [the OpenIB Alliance] is focused first on Linux, there's no reason why this cannot be applied to the other operating environments," Skelton said.
Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service