Intel and Microsoft absquatulate! Is all hope lost for InfiniBand?InfiniBand has been hammered ham·mered
1. Shaped or worked with a metalworker's hammer and often showing the marks of these tools: a bowl of hammered brass.
2. Slang Drunk or intoxicated.
Adj. lately by Intel's and Microsoft's withdrawal from active InfiniBand development. Reporters and investors have loudly questioned InfiniBand's very survival--but, frankly, that's way too dramatic for the real story. Intel's and Microsoft's withdrawals are significant because they confirm what many developers already believed--that InfiniBand's market would not be the high-volume, mid-tier server space, but in data centers as a high-speed interconnect (1) To attach one device to another.
(2) A physical port (plug, socket) or wireless port (transmitter, receiver) used to attach one device to another. fabric directly hooking into CPU CPU
in full central processing unit
Principal component of a digital computer, composed of a control unit, an instruction-decoding unit, and an arithmetic-logic unit. memory. The companies who put their money on InfiniBand as a high-end data interconnect were not too worried at the twin pullouts, though others who were developing around lower-end InfiniBand roadmaps are feeling the squeeze.
InfiniBand No Longer Network-Wide Bus Replacement
InfiniBand combines silicon chips and management software to transport large amounts of data at very high speeds. It is a channel-based, switched-fabric architecture that scales from 500MB/sec to 6GB/sec per link. It's meant to counter bottlenecks between server-to-server and server-to-storage connections by residing at both the host server and the server's storage targets. InfiniBand is particularly suited to clustering environments, since current clustering technology is often built on architectures that were never created to support clustered environments. For example, Ethernet-based clusters do not prioritize pri·or·i·tize
v. pri·or·i·tized, pri·or·i·tiz·ing, pri·or·i·tiz·es Usage Problem
To arrange or deal with in order of importance.
v.intr. traffic across complex distributed networks, and developers must work their clustering software around these limitations. InfiniBand can enable high-speed system clusters by providing fast communications between nodes and a solid infrastructure for data movement. How fast? It offers a throughput of up to 2.5GB/sec and can support up to 64,000 addressable Reachable. When something is addressable, it can be identified and manipulated independently of its surroundings. For example, screen pixels and RAM memory are addressable. Each of the screen's picture elements can be individually turned on and off, and each of the memory's bytes can be devices. InfiniBand originally grew out of two different designs: Future I/O An input/output architecture developed by IBM, HP and Compaq that evolved into InfiniBand. Future I/O was expected to replace the PCI bus in high-end servers with a switching matrix, providing a high-speed data path between each pair of nodes. , developed by Compaq, IBM (International Business Machines Corporation, Armonk, NY, www.ibm.com) The world's largest computer company. IBM's product lines include the S/390 mainframes (zSeries), AS/400 midrange business systems (iSeries), RS/6000 workstations and servers (pSeries), Intel-based servers (xSeries) , and HP; and Next Generation I/O (Input/Output) The transfer of data between the CPU and a peripheral device. Every transfer is an output from one device and an input to another. See PC input/output.
I/O - Input/Output , developed by Intel, Microsoft, and Sun.
With both Intel and Microsoft championing the first instances of InfiniB and, their withdrawal does impact the InfiniBand space. It signals the fact that InfiniBand will no longer be a network-wide bus replacement, the vision long held by the two companies. Intel was working on InfiniBand chips, concentrating on putting the soupedup chips on the motherboard Also called the "system board," it is the main printed circuit board in an electronic device, which contains sockets that accept additional boards. In a desktop computer, the motherboard contains the CPU, chipset, PCI bus slots, AGP slot, memory sockets and controller circuits for the and selling the faster machines as clustered servers do. However, their development roadmap lost ground to the first wave of InfiniB and introductions, which followed another path entirely: InfiniBand as a high-speed interconnect fabric in busy corporate data centers and clusters, with physical and software components distributed throughout the fabric. Intel had hoped to introduce its InfiniB and vision first in order to identify the market with its name. With market buy-in solidly behind it, Intel could afford to continue developing an InfiniBandenabled motherboard. Failing that, Intel stopped production and turned back to its 3G10 efforts, now renamed P CI Express.
From the beginning, Intel had preferred the lower-speed lx version of InfiniBand, although most other developers preferred a higher-speed 4x transport. Intel's idea was to replace the old PCI bus PCI bus - Peripheral Component Interconnect with InfiniBand, but that old technology stumbled back to Life with updated PCI-X (PCI eXtended) An enhanced PCI bus technology originally developed by IBM, HP and Compaq that is backward compatible with existing PCI cards. PCI and 32-bit PCI-X slots are physically the same, and PCI cards can plug into PCI-X slots. and PCI Express A high-speed peripheral interconnect from Intel introduced in 2002. Note that although sometimes abbreviated "PCX," PCI Express is not the same as "PCI-X" (see PCI-SIG and PCI-X for comparison). As a result of the confusion, "PCI-E" or "PCIe" is the accepted abbreviation. . PCI Express is focused on signals that are contained on a single system .n a single enclosure enclosure (inclosure) n. land bounded by a fence, wall, hedge, ditch or other physical evidence of boundary. Unfortunately, too often these creations are not included among the actual legally-described boundaries and cause legal problems.
ENCLOSURE. . It focuses on signals that cross a span f inches between the processor and the nearest components. (The Hypertransport architecture is more its competitor than InfiniBand.) Intel hopes that PCI Express would do what Intel had hoped InfiniBand would do: allow it to soup up its chips to create more powerful microprocessors for Intel-based clusters.
Although Intel insists it still supports InfiniBand (it even uses the word "wholeheartedly whole·heart·ed
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.
whole ") its move did not inspire confidence in technology investors. When Intel canceled its chip-development program, many investors felt they were left holding a $750 million bag: money already invested in InfiniBand startups like Mellanox, Banderacom and Lanel5 Software. However, the Intel move hardly spells doom for all companies, especially for those who are already funded through product completion and who had targeted their InfiniBand development efforts towards high-end data centers. Many of those investors felt doubly shaken
Shaken (車剣, also known as kurumaken) are a type of Shuriken at Microsoft's withdrawal announcement, which followed Intel's. Microsoft reported that they preferred to concentrate on development dollars on Gigabit Ethernet An Ethernet standard that transmits at 1 Gbps. Used mostly to connect high-end workstations and servers as well as for network backbones, Gigabit Ethernet transmits full duplex from point to point using switches and half duplex in a shared environment (CSMA/CD) using a hub. , which the company says addresses a higher range of server capabilities without the additional software and management expenses of InfiniBand. As with Intel, the impact is not as great as it might appear-third party InfiniBand support wil l be perfectly welcome in Windows and .NET environments.
Chris Wildermuth, director of strategic marketing at JNI (Java Native Interface) A programming interface (API) in Sun's Java Virtual Machine used for calling native platform elements such as GUI routines. RNI (Raw Native Interface) is the JNI counterpart in Microsoft's Java Virtual Machine.
JNI - Java Native Interface , commented that Intel's withdrawal will not impact JNI's development at all, which was already centered around high-end data center interconnects. JNI's interest is "different from what the conventional interest is. When we first announced our products, we saw that InfiniBand is a data center product serving clustering." InfiniBand retains great opportunities, but perhaps not the opportunities Intel envisioned when they got into the business. Wildermuthadded, "Intel really saw this as a method to create a new connection environment directly to their process, to allow better scaling and clustering to occur. They saw this as a successor to the PCI bus."
The startups that bought into Intel's vision are suffering. Intel was primarily targeting low-and mid-ranged servers, where the sales margin was already razor thin. But this market is highly price conscious with thin profit margins, and adding fast InfiniB and chips to the microprocessors would add another $300 or so to the manufacturing cost. This cost would have to be passed on the customer to make any profit at all, and would probably cancel any performance gains the chip might offer. Some market segments would have accepted the price for the performance, but not in the volume Intel needed for its desired profit margins on the lower cost servers.
In high-end corporate data centers, the emphasis is much less on price than performance, and InfiniBand fabric products will likely fit nicely into that market. Intel never served the enterprise data center in any volume. Among the Big Iron enterprise manufacturers--Sun, IBM, HP/Compaq and Dell--Sun wouldn't use Intel microprocessors For a list of Intel's microcontrollers, see .
This generational and chronological list of Intel microprocessors attempts to present all of Intel's processors from the pioneering 4-bit 4004 (1971) to the present high-end offerings, the 64-bit Itanium 2 (2002) and Intel on a bet, HP/Compaq's merger delayed their and program, and IBM had already made its own deals. Wildermuth added, "If I were Intel I'd pull out too. That's no implication to InfiniB and, but where we think it's going, and where we think that analysts have adjusted their sights, they agree with our models. We don't think it has an effect on the market as we see it or as it's currently evolving. But we're not a startup whose funding was founded on its being all pervasive or all encompassing."
Michael Callahan, CTO (Chief Technical Officer) The executive responsible for the technical direction of an organization. See CIO and salary survey. and co-founder of Polyserve, agreed. "The reason Intel made this decision, as much as anything, is their efforts were not succeeding. They did not think what they were coming up with was as competitive as what other companies were building." According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Callahan, Intel's withdrawal of its InfiniBand hardware effort acknowledged that InfiniBand chips were not going to be coming principally from Intel in the first place. He said, "At the highest level there's been a lot of attention paid to the announcement that Intel would stop doing chip development around InfiniBand. In fact people were realizing that other companies were getting ahead of Intel quite significantly in terms of where their development efforts were leading."
Callahan, whose company develops clustering management software, believes that Intel will play an important part in corporate data centers, though not in their original vision of InfiniBand-enabled Intel microprocessors. He pointed to a wholesale movement in the corporate data center to move from UNIX systems Noun 1. UNIX system - trademark for a powerful operating system
UNIX, UNIX operating system
operating system, OS - (computer science) software that controls the execution of computer programs and may provide various services with their fewer large and sophisticated workstations, towards Intel-based architectures running over Ethernet. If administrators use cluster management software to manage the server cluster as a single server, they can realize tremendous cost savings in the management function as well. Meanwhile, as InfiniB and enters the data center it can improve performance enormously among these clustered Intel-based servers. Callahan said, "InfiniB and plays into that because it is very useful in building a very high performance connection between multiple servers."
High-end data center managers are looking at InfiniBand with interest, not only because of its speed but because it allows clustering and storage upgrades independent of the host systems, which allows IT to separate server and storage purchases. The major software vendors in the data centers are looking at InfiniB and with interest, including IBM's DB2 division and Oracle. Still, even a high-end InfiniB and fabric must duke it out with Fibre Channel fabrics A Fibre Channel fabric (or Fibre Channel switched fabric, FC-SW) is a switched fabric of Fibre Channel devices enabled by a Fibre Channel switch. Fabrics are normally subdivided by Fibre Channel zoning. Each fabric has a name server and provides other services. that are already ubiquitous in storage area networks, and with IP and the arrival of 10GB Ethernet. While investors in high-end InfiniBand start-ups can start breathing again, they shouldn't pop the champagne just yet.