IBM, Voltaire Seek Faster Data Centres

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Voltaire’s custom 40 GB switch for IBM BladeCentre will help solution providers deliver faster, more efficient data centre solutions.

Voltaire has announced it will design a custom, high-performance 40 GB per second InfiniBand switch module for IBM to accelerate performance of applications running on BladeCentre. The integrated product, expected to be released within the next six months, will help solution providers deliver faster, more efficient data centre solutions.

“Customers’ data centres are only as fast as the slowest component,” and in many cases that slow component is a switch, says Alex Yost, vice president of IBM BladeCentre solutions.

Yost says that as server processors and networking fabric evolve and become faster and more reliable, more customers are finding ways to leverage that speed to deliver faster application performance and enable high-performance computing across a variety of industries.

But if the components, like switches used to connect servers to networking infrastructures, can’t keep up with the I/O speed of processors or the transmission rates of faster networks, all that speed and power are essentially useless, Yost says.

“As networks, processors and memory get faster, it’s crucial that the interconnection devices like switches can ensure the data centre components are communicating with each other just as fast,” Yost says. Otherwise, data backs up on either side of the interconnect and bottlenecks are introduced, lowering performance and increasing latency.

“If you’re not making sure all these super-fast devices can communicate just as quickly, then all they’re doing is waiting really quickly. And that’s expensive,” Yost says.

The introduction of Voltaire’s custom switch will enable IBM solution providers to bring faster, more efficient data centre solutions to more customers across a variety of industries, says Yost, as those customers realise how the technology, formerly reserved for high-performance computing in specialised verticals, can help drive their business.

“HPC is something that used to be seen only in laboratories, in the education and government markets,” he says. “But now we’re finding clients using HPC horizontally for a variety of things to speed development and time to market,” Yost says.

One example is the automobile industry, hit hard by the economic downturn, says Yost. In addition to other cost cutting measures, many of these manufacturers have leveraged HPC and related technology to speed up development and hasten new products into the marketplace to help drive revenues.

In some cases, Yost says, products that used to need seven years from concept to delivery, now can be developed, tested and delivered in half that time using design, modeling and testing applications powered by HPC technology.

Yost expects a quick migration to and adoption of the new BladeServer technology, and says IBM has seen interest from a number of customers that need to bring products to market more quickly, particularly in this economy.

“Organisations with environments ranging from data warehousing and virtualization to industries including financial services, manufacturing, life sciences, government and education all can leverage the higher levels of application performance the IBM BladeCentre and Voltaire 40 GB per second InfiniBand switch can provide,” says Voltaire CEO Ronnie Kenneth.