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The InfiniBand roadmap

If you are on the edges of the networking crowd at work, you probably occasionally feel left out of cafeteria conversations as the propeller heads, er, networking professionals, toss around meaningless acronyms and argue about the relative merits and demerits of IB and Ethernet.

If this describes you, then you’ll appreciate Timothy Prickett Morgan’s realatively painless overview of the InfiniBand roadmap. As a bonus, he even puts the roadmap into the context of the continually evolving Ethernet.

As he runs through what we can expect from IB in the next couple years he also points out the big fuschia elephant in the room: the PCI bus, the same bugaboo that keeps NVIDIA’s engineers up at night

No matter what speed InfiniBand hits, the PCI Express 3.0 bus is going to be the bottleneck. That spec was originally due in late 2009, but has run into delays. The multi-lane PCI Express I/O architecture will support 8GT/sec of bandwidth, up from 5GT/sec with PCI Express 2.0 slots. While PCI Express 3.0 will ditch the 8b/10b encoding, it is not clear if the peripheral standard will use the same 64/66 encoding used by the future InfiniBand protocol, a 128b/130b encoding scheme, or something else.

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