SBS Makes Infiniband (Em)Bed

By Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch Infiniband isn't going away, no matter how many times pundits kicked it to the curb after its disappointing start. SBS Technologies Inc. is among the vendors banking on Infiniband's potential when used in the right applications. The Albuquerque-based company sees embedded computing as the Infiniband sweet spot, and it is offering new products to take advantage of that market. "Infiniband has receded," says Illuminata Inc. principal analyst Jonathan Eunice. "It's still a player, it's just not what it was originally thought to be. But it still has possibilities in HPC [high performance computing] and embedded systems. Infiniband makes a pretty good foundation for those types of applications." SBS Technologies is optimistic. It's added two new Infiniband products with more on tap for next year. The new products are a 24-port switch with independent four-speed ports that support up to 10 Gbit/s in each direction, and a low-profile PCI-X host channel adapter (HCA). Coming next year are a 96-port switch based on the 24-port switch chip and a PCI-Express card. SBS offers Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet embedded computing products, too, but the company sees demand for Infiniband, albeit primarily in the military and high computing segments. "We're seeing a lot more requests for Infiniband over the last six months," SBS Infiniband technologist Steve Cook says. "Demand has been growing steadily." Cook says roughly half of the company's Infiniband sales are in embedded systems, with about 40 percent in HPC. "The rest are unique applications," he says. SBS isn't alone among InfiniBand vendors targeting embedded computing. Along with Mellanox Technologies Ltd. and Sky Computers, SBS was a founding sponsor of an Embedded InfiniBand Subgroup within the InfiniBand Trade Association earlier this year. Although SBS pulls in a lot more revenue from Fibre Channel, it remains committed to Infiniband. "We're seeing it used in a lot more high-speed computing than previously," Cook says.