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Intel to Build Largest Infiniband Cluster

Intel Thursday said it has signed a deal with the Department of Energy to build the largest InfiniBand cluster test bed built yet at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Some 128 computers from ProMicro Systems will be networked together, each containing dual Intel Xeon processors and using InfiniBand Host Channel Adapters, configured together within a 4X InfiniBand fabric. The cluster will run on the Linux operating system.

Initially, the cluster will be used for InfiniBand software stack validation and hardware testing, but ultimately will be available for "unclassified" protocol research and development. No completion date for the project has been set.

"Its principle function is as a test-bed, but there are a great many scientists that will want to get their hands on it to see what is the applicability would be for other environments," Los Alamos National Laboratory spokesperson Jim Danneskiod told internetnews.com, who said the goal is to make a system that works like ASCI-style computers using High-Performance Computing (HPC) at a cheaper price.

Los Alamos has a long history in developing some of the most powerful clusters on the planet including ones that run on Linux. The lab recently tapped Salt Lake City, Utah-based Linux NetworX to build, integrate and deliver a 1,024-processor Linux cluster computer, dubbed "The Science Appliance."

InfiniBand is an interconnect or I/O architecture that connects servers with remote storage and networking devices, and other servers. It can also be used inside servers for inter-processor communication.

The 1.0 InfiniBand specifications were completed in October 2000. Solutions based on InfiniBand architecture are expected in the market early next year.

InfiniBand is a open standards channel-based, switched fabric, point-to-point interconnect for a wide range of platforms. The architecture can operate in a performance range of 500 MB/s to 6 GB/s per link.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel is among the founding companies of the InfiniBand Trade Association and has founded a wide range of industry enabling programs including the InfiniBand Evaluation Program, targeted at early implementations of the fabric technology.