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Mellanox Boosts PCI Express with InfiniBand

InfiniBand chip leader Mellanox Technologies plans to boost the next-generation PCI Express technology with InfiniBand (IB).

Mellanox's third-generation InfiniBand Host Channel Adapter (HCA), the InfiniHost III Ex, boosts bandwidth by a factor of three over the legacy PCI-X technology, with a 20% reduction in latency, according to company product marketing officials Kevin Deierling and Byran Longmire.

Deierling and Longmire say Mellanox has been working closely with Intel on the HCA, which will be ready in time for PCI Express server launches this summer.

"PCI Express and InfiniBand are a perfect marriage of technologies for data center computing," states Jim Pappas, director of initiative marketing for Intel's Enterprise Platform Group. "Combined, they enable an unprecedented 20 Gb/s bandwidth from Intel Architecture-based processors to server and storage systems on an InfiniBand fabric."

InfiniHost III Ex HCA<br>PCI Express Adapter Card

InfiniHost III Ex HCA
PCI Express Adapter Card

The InfiniHost III Ex uses an 8X PCI Express interface to deliver 32- and 64-bit InfiniBand capabilities for PCI Express-based servers. The HCA includes dual 10Gb/s InfiniBand ports for "unmatched throughput and extremely low latencies in a low power, single chip implementation," the company claims. Mellanox will also ship a low profile InfiniHost III Ex HCA PCI Express add-in adapter card.

InfiniHost and 8X PCI Express server platforms combine to produce an aggregate of 20Gb/s of I/O bandwidth. Bandwidth and latency are critical attributes for clustered database, High Performance Computing (HPC), embedded, and storage applications that take advantage of InfiniBand's Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) capabilities, according to the company.

"Mellanox is clearly a leader in the IB component market," says Tony Asaro of the Enterprise Storage Group's ESG Lab. "I think that IB has found its place as a server cluster technology. [We're seeing] lots of installations in the scientific and research community, and hopefully more wins on the corporate side in 2004.

"PCI Express will take advantage of the bandwidth capabilities," Asaro adds. "And the timing is good, as Grid is becoming more of a reality."

The InfiniHost III Ex offers full backwards software compatibility with the existing InfiniHost HCA. It is currently available to OEM partners, priced at $231 in quantities of 10,000. The low profile PCI Express card is currently sampling to OEM partners, and general availability of both products is expected in the second quarter.

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