Mellanox ships InfiniBand switch for I/O consolidation

By Kevin Komiega

-- In an effort to position InfiniBand as a converged network fabric technology, Mellanox Technologies today announced the availability of BridgeX, a gateway product that bridges Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand on a single 40Gbps fabric.

The BridgeX BX4000 combines low latency, a lossless fabric and 40Gbps performance in a 1U form factor with 12 ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) or 16 ports of 2, 4, or 8Gbps Fibre Channel, or a mix of both. The BX4000 gateway supports up to 40Gbps network speeds on the hosts and connects lower speed Gigabit Ethernet, 10GbE networks, and Fibre Channel SAN fabrics.

The BX4000 uses the InfiniBand transport to allow port groups to be configured and dynamically changed as 10GbE or 2, 4, or 8Gbps Fibre Channel. When the BX4000's uplink ports are configured as 10GbE, the system operates as a Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) to Fibre Channel gateway.

Gilad Shainer, director of technical marketing at Mellanox, says BridgeX makes it possible for companies to migrate to converged data center fabrics without scrapping legacy gear.

"You typically see multiple networks in the data center – Ethernet, Fibre Channel, and InfiniBand – with multiple adapters, switches and bridges. Multiple networks create a lot of inefficiency and are not the way toward green computing," says Shainer. "BridgeX lets you run every application and transport that you need, but on a single wire. It provides I/O unification."

Shainer says consolidating multiple networks on a single wire creates cost savings by reducing the number of adapters and switches in the data center. He also says operational expenses can be reduced through simplified network management.

Additionally, he says, BridgeX is aimed at blade server environments where it can be paired with a 10GbE or InfiniBand switch blade to provide Fibre Channel SAN connectivity from an FCoE or Fibre Channel over InfiniBand (FCoIB)-based network adapter.

Pricing for the BridgeX-based BX line of gateways starts at $9,995.

This article was originally published on February 17, 2009