Cisco's move out of InfiniBand early, but may ultimately prove correct

Print Friendly, PDF & Email’s Jennifer Schiff wrote an article late last week on the state of the InfiniBand market since Cisco bailed on IB this summer

Cisco will not be offering InfiniBand switches as of June 2009. Customers are encouraged to migrate to the Cisco Nexus 5000 Series and Cisco Nexus 7000 Series Ethernet switches. Information about the Cisco Nexus 5000 Series Switches can be found at

As Schiff observes, IB is big in HPC but is also seeing increasing adoption in the datacenter

HPC isn’t the only area where InfiniBand continues to make inroads. Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) is utilizing InfiniBand in the HP Oracle Database Machine, Exadata. “And we’re seeing other database vendors following in Oracle’s steps and creating their own interfaces, which will allow them to connect directly to InfiniBand,” said Gilad Shainer, director of technical marketing at IB chipmaker Mellanox (NASDAQ: MLNX).

…Because InfiniBand can be used as a unified fabric, “you can run your storage, you can run your network, you can run your database, and you can run your management all on the same wire,” explained Shainer. “And once you do that you can eliminate unnecessary components and unnecessary networks in your infrastructure.

Cisco is hoping that all this IB business is going to turn out to be an Indian summer, though, as the costs of 10 GbE continues to decline.

Indeed, in a recent e-mail, Cisco spokesperson Lee Davis wrote that while Cisco felt InfiniBand “is an excellent protocol, we believe the future lies with the new Data Center Ethernet, which combines the ease of management and high performance Ethernet with the reliability of Fibre Channel (no packet loss).”

Well, one might expect


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  1. IB is big in HPC, but not because IB is so great. it’s merely more attractive than the alternatives (Gb, 10G). if there were an ethernet-like alternative that came close to the same bandwidth and latency numbers, IB would have real competition. for instance, Gb persists and even makes a lot of sense in some cases where speed (either lat or bw) is not important. 10G is attractive for its ease of interop, but has so far been dramatically more expensive, not to mention slower than IB. in other words, IB’s closest competitor seems to be 10G and it has work to do on cost, bandwidth and latency…