Thursday, August 6, 2009

Infiniband VS 10GB Ethernet--Which Does What?

by Heather Head

There’s no doubt that speed and performance are hot topics among data storage and retrieval users and manufacturers today. But for consumers, the question of where to invest can be daunting, especially when it comes to interconnectivity protocols.

June’s finalization of an FCoE standard excited some industry analysts, and shows promise for growing that end of the industry. However, with Cisco pushing 10GB Ethernet products, most companies are investing in this standard for their Windows-based connectivity. QLogic, Chelsio, and Mellanox are among the producers of 10GB Ethernet. Users include Boeing, as well as email hosting and archiving provider, LiveOffice.

Then there’s Infiniband, offering four times the speed of already-speedy Ethernet, at lower cost. According to a May press release from the InfiniBand® Trade Association (IBTA), three independent trade analysts confirmed continued market growth of InfiniBand products in the HPC and data center server and storage markets. According to Tabor Research, for instance, “HPC-using organizations that are considering converged fabric strategies are more likely to consolidate on Infiniband than Ethernet.”

Unlike Ethernet, however, Infiniband doesn’t prefer to communicate with top-heavy servers running on a Windows OS. Shunning the mass market in favor primarily of high-end performance shops, Infiniband likes Unix or Linux equipment. Implemented with high-speed data storage and processing, it provides unprecedented performance for high-speed computation.

Mellanox and QLogic (with the purchase of NetXen) offer Infiniband products, and organizations like the National Institute for Health are using it.

Bottom line: If you’re running Windows servers, Ethernet currently provides easier connectivity. But if HPC performance is your game, you’ll get more for your dollar with Infiniband. Some companies run both, depending on factors beyond the scope of this discussion. If there’s any doubt as to what your company needs, contact someone who understands both and can give you tailored advice (that’s our shameless plug—866-463-3372—we’ll fix you up with just the right thing). Whatever you decide, the latest products will provide you with faster access than ever before possible.

1 comment:

  1. InfiniBand loves Windows, too. Just hasn't been a large driver in the HPC market, but with extensions from Hyper-V coming...who knows?