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Infiniband gears for 50-100Gbit/s links

Posted: 07 Jun 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Infiniband? Ethernet? interconnect? networking?

The Infiniband Trade Association is adding new 50- and 100Gbit/s milestones to its road map, claiming its members will deliver products for them by early 2012. The effort revs the technology up to 26Gbit/s per lane to compete with the next wave of Ethernet.

Infiniband is primarily used as a low latency clustering interconnect in high-performance computers, thought backers are trying to extend its reach into other applications such as storage networking. It competes with Ethernet which has higher latency but should see products enabling 40- and 100Gbit/s speeds, perhaps within a year.

The trade group has defined a so-called Enhanced Data Rate standard that can deliver up to 104Gbit/s using four parallel lanes running at 26Gbit/s per lane. A separate Fourteen Data Rate version will deliver 56Gbit/s using four 14Gbit/s lanes.

Currently, 40Gbit/s using four 10Gbit lanes is the top speed for Infiniband products. Most of those products use 90nm CMOS today.

Today's 40G links travel about 10m over passive and 15m over active copper cables. Cables and connectors for the next-generation speeds are still in the design phase, but will generally have shorter lengths.

The new speeds forced a move from 8b10b to 64b66b coding. The new Infiniband products will also require the speeds of next-generation PCIe 3.0 interconnects expected to emerge at about the same time.

The IBTA announced its plans at the International Supercomputing conference in Hamburg. In this year's Top 500 Supercomputer list, 424 systems were based on clusters, 205 of them using Infiniband. Gigabit Ethernet was used in 244 of the systems, but is on the decline and Infiniband is rising.

Currently two companies make Infiniband chipsQLogic and Mellanox. A Mellanox spokesman said the company ships about 90,000 Infiniband adapter cards per quarter, enough to serve about five percent of all servers.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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