Mellanox Debuts 56 Gbps InfiniBand

Speed matters which is why Mellanox (NASDAQ:MLNX) is now introducing its new SwitchX technology, delivering 56 Gbps InfiniBand.

SwitchX is the underlying silicon solution that will enable storage and network equipment vendors to deliver both 56 Gbps InfiniBand as well as 40 Gigabit Ethernet traffic in the same switch chassis.

“InfinBand has done very well in the storage market and we expect to see more interest in connecting storage nodes not just in the high performance computing space but in areas beyond that,” John Monson, Vice President of Product Marketing at Mellanox told

Monson added that InfiniBand as part of the SwitchX solution could be leveraged to help reduced the bottleneck between compute and storage. He noted that SwitchX is multi-protocol, enabling vendors and enterprises to mix and match Ethernet and InfiniBand for data and storage traffic.

“This takes the protocol battle out of the equation and looks at the fundamental attributes that a vendor wants to deliver in a switch product,” Monson said.

SwitchX can support up to 4 Terabits per second of total switching capacity. In terms of ports, the silicon can handle up to 36 ports of 56 Gbps InfiniBand or 36 ports of 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40 GbE). The 56 Gbps InfiniBand rate is also known as FDR or Fourteen Data Rate and is the fastest data rate deployed in the market to date for InfiniBand.

“If you think about 56 Gigabits per second, that is built up from four lanes of 14 Gigabits per second each,” Monson said. “They’re combined in a quad configuration, or 4 x 14.”

Though the 56 Gbps InifinBand FDR speed is the fastest yet deployed for InfiniBand, work is ongoing a new top-end that isn’t yet on the market. Monson noted that there is an Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) specification, which provides four lanes of 25 Gigabit per second traffic, delivering 100 Gigabits per second.

Among the reasons InfiniBand continues to have a role in network data and storage traffic is the fact that it delivers lower latency than Ethernet.

“There is a latency delta that is the neighborhood of 30 percent,” Monson said. “There are some fundamental efficiency benefits that InfiniBand gives you for lossless data relative to the amount of transport overhead that is required.”

That said, Monson noted that with SwitchX, Mellanox is also improving the latency in Ethernet to lower levels.

“SwitchX has a huge amount of features and we’ll deliver a base set of those features initially,” Monson said. “There is a set of features that can roll out over the next 18 to 24 months that will create new ways delivering value to customers whether it’s on the convergence side or virtualization.”

Mellanox is also now moving forward with its integration of product from Voltaire. Mellanox acquired InfiniBand vendorVoltaire for $218 million at the end of 2010.

“We have merged the teams and we have created a roadmap moving forward that gets the best leverage out of both companies and maximizes the use of resources,” Monson said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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