A new cluster option

Organizations have quite a few options for connecting clusters.

There's the time-tested Ethernet and the latest variation, 10 Gigabit Ethernet. There are high-end specialty solutions such as Myricom Inc.'s Myrinet and Quadrics Ltd.'s QsNet. And then there's a newcomer, InfiniBand, an open specification offering a high-speed, — currently up to 10 gigabits/sec but headed toward 30 gigabits/sec — low-latency interconnect technology. InfiniBand debuted in October 2000, but the technology has only recently started to catch on.

The product has found its initial niche in the high-performance computing community. Organizations pursuing clusters with 32 nodes or more are evaluating it as an option, according to Chuck Foley, chief executive officer of InfiniCon Systems Inc., a switching solutions vendor.

"We are seeing interest in InfiniBand as a Linux clustering interconnect," said Brad Benton, a senior architect at Fabric Networks Inc., which makes InfiniBand switches.

InfiniBand also is seen as a good fit for database clustering. Oracle Corp. later this year is expected to offer native support for InfiniBand. Adoption of it in the database space could propel the technology out of the lab and into mainstream data centers.

Ben Eiref, director of product marketing at switch maker Topspin Communications Inc., refers to databases as the "killer [application] for the success of our products and InfiniBand's success in general."

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