Intel rolls out Infiniband testing agents

Processor developer Intel has used the Intel Developer's Forum in San Francisco to announce the availability of Device Test...

Processor developer Intel has used the Intel Developer's Forum in San Francisco to announce the availability of Device Test Agents (DTAs) for Infiniband-enabled computing systems.

The DTA implementation specification allows companies designing Infiniband-ready systems to test their products in real-world environments running actual applications in conjunction with Infiniband-enabled systems from other vendors, according to Jim Papas, the director of initiative marketing for Intel's enterprise platforms group.

Infiniband is a next-generation, switched fabric I/O technology that speeds data throughput between servers, storage, and other network devices.

Using Infiniband DTAs, network system vendors can track the performance of their Infiniband-ready server or storage device as it relates to other Infiniband-ready devices, tracking response times and logging any errors. Using the DTA implementation specification, every company that plans to build Infiniband-ready computing systems is expected to implement their own hardware-specific DTAs for testing alongside mixed-vendor Infiniband devices.

Availability of Infiniband DTAs sets in motion the next phase of Infiniband's maturity as an enterprise I/O solution, Papas said.

"Until now, the Infiniband community has been testing mostly at the physical and electrical layer. But that's at the hardware layer only, not at the application layer where the performance of a network really begins to matter to IT," he added.

Vendors will begin to market Infiniband pilot systems later this year, with full availability of Infiniband-enabled servers, storage, and other devices scheduled for early 2003.

Many Infiniband vendors at the Intel Developer's Forum have already demonstrated data-intensive applications running across Infiniband networks

Business intelligence software company SAS showed off its Enterprise Miner data mining software running across an Infiniband connected network.

IBM plans to use the forum to demonstrate its DB2 database environment running across an Infiniband network, Papas said. With Infiniband, IBM is getting nearly linear scalability with DB2, Papas explained, meaning that the performance of the DB2 network increases equally with the amount of additional processing power added to the DB2 network. Non-Infiniband networks generally scale to only about 70% of the actual added processing power due to throughput limitations, he said.

DTAs are a product of the Infiniband Trade association's compliance interoperability working group, of which Intel is a leading member.

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