InfiniBand makes gradual comeback into storage


When the first InfiniBand specification was released in 2000, the technology was touted as being far faster than existing Fibre Channel and other server-to-storage networking technologies, with throughput speeds of 10Gbit/sec. But the technology failed to gain momentum largely because it works well only when storage devices are located about 50 or fewer feet apart, analysts said, because signals degrade over long-distance wires.

Now InfiniBand is making a gradual comeback as a backbone technology for storage and server clusters and as a server-storage interconnect in data centers. The technology got a significant boost when Cisco Systems Inc. acquired switch maker Topspin Communications Inc. for $250 mil-lion in April, said Tony Asaro, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass.

Also last week, Engenio Information Technologies Inc. in Milpitas, Calif., announced that it started shipping Infini-Band-enabled storage arrays, with data throughput rates of 10Gbit/sec., more than twice the speed of the fastest Fibre Channel-based arrays.

The Engenio 6498 controller and storage system integrate InfiniBand connectivity with the company's previous all-Fibre Channel 6998 array, which offers either high-performance Fibre Channel or high-capacity Serial ATA disk drives.

Engenio, a subsidiary of LSI Logic Corp., resells its products through Silicon Graphics Inc. in Mountain View, Calif., which bundles them with controller nodes from YottaYotta Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta, to create the InfiniteStorage TP9700 array. The product is priced from US$103,550.