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IBTA Celebrates 20 Years of Growth and Industry Success

In this special guest feature, Bill Lee writes that IBTA has enjoyed 20 years of growth while fostering the InfiniBand standard.

Bill Lee from IBTA

In August 1999, the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) was formed by a group of industry leaders with a plan to develop the InfiniBand architecture, providing a RDMA fabric with high-performance, scalability and programmability to interconnect data centers across the world. In 2015, following the success of InfiniBand, the IBTA launched the RoCE Initiative to promote and maintain RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) interconnect technology.

This year, the IBTA is celebrating 20 years of growth and success in delivering these widely used and valued technologies to the high-performance networking industry. Over the past two decades, the IBTA has provided the industry with technical specifications and educational resources that have advanced a wide range of high-performance platforms. InfiniBand and RoCE interconnects are deployed in the world’s fastest supercomputers and continue to significantly impact future-facing applications such as Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

InfiniBand, designed to enable the most efficient data center performance, provides its users with the most advanced interconnect technology and the ability to configure the network to meet the applications needs of today and tomorrow. The ability to design any sort of network topology, such as adding In-Network Computing capabilities, makes InfiniBand the best technology for the most demanding compute and storage applications. InfiniBand is used in thousands of data centers, High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters, Artificial Intelligence platforms, clouds, storage and embedded applications that scale from two nodes up to clusters utilizing thousands of nodes.

Since its inception, the IBTA has maintained an InfiniBand Roadmap that marks both the continuous progress of InfiniBand data rate speeds and the planned increases that are in line with industry systems-level performance gains. It details the existing link speeds and future plans, showing NDR rates expected in 2020. The Roadmap provides specific milestones around expected improvements to ensure enterprise, HPC, AI, and cloud end users’ networking investments are protected.

Following in the footsteps of InfiniBand, RoCE has also made strides in the data center industry. In 2010, the first RoCE specification was released, and three years later RoCE made its debut in large scale deployments. The IBTA later formed the RoCE Initiative as an educational and resource program, offering technical education and reference solutions for those deploying high performance Ethernet topologies in traditional and cloud-based data centers. Through the RoCE Initiative, the IBTA published a variety of RoCE educational resources such as RoCE Deployment Guides, whitepapers and more, providing key technologists with valuable information and enabling them to make informed decisions for the next generation of data centers.

Today, InfiniBand accelerates the top three supercomputers in the world and six of the top 10 systems, and nearly 55 percent of the overall systems in the HPC category according to the June 2019 TOP500 Supercomputers List.  InfiniBand and RoCE power three of the five largest cloud service providers and six of the top 10, while IBTA RDMA is part of recipes for private and hybrid cloud solutions.

The IBTA has also offered support to the data center industry and the user community at-large through compliance and interoperability testing, online resources and more. Twice a year, the IBTA brings its members together for IBTA Plugfests. During these events, attendees test their InfiniBand and RoCE products for compliance with the IBTA specifications and interoperability with other compliant solutions. The products that pass these rigorous tests are included in the IBTA Integrators’ List and RoCE Integrators’ List, which are updated biannually after each Plugfest. The Integrators’ Lists provide the industry with a robust, working ecosystems of both InfiniBand and RoCE products. End users and customers rely on these results when designing or upgrading systems.

The InfiniBand Trade Association also supports data center managers with the InfiniBand Product Directoryand RoCE Product Search. These listings provide a comprehensive catalogue of InfiniBand and RoCE products and solutions that are available for commercial and customer use. The catalogues are frequently updated in order to give end users the most accurate record of available products.

Since August 1999, the IBTA specifications and programs have earned a wide range of support from thetech industry and established a solid foundation that will be built upon for years to come. Interconnects included in the InfiniBand Architecture specification continue to progress and maintain to this day a reputation staked on reliability, efficiency and high performance. There has been a 100x improvement in InfiniBand performance over the past 20 years, with no end to future speed increases in sight. The development of these specifications would not be possible without the support of IBTA members. IBTA membership is open to any company, government department or academic institution. For more information on membership and member benefits, visit the Membership page on the IBTA website.

Bill Lee is IBTA Marketing Working Group Chair and Director of Marketing at Mellanox Technologies. Bill has been working in the networking industry for over 20 years in both engineering and marketing roles. Prior to joining Mellanox, Bill worked at various companies, such as National Semiconductor, Galileo Technology, and Marvell Technology Group. He received his BSEL from the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

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