InfiniBand has emerged as an ideal solution for many embedded applications such as high-speed I/O links, reliable backplanes, and scaleable switch fabrics. With reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) built into the architecture, InfiniBand's superior capabilities are enabling outstanding functionality in non-traditional systems.
Embedded applications are those systems that keep the interconnect captive; that is, the system manufacturer defines the limits of the system and its path for growth (if any). The end customer only sees a monolithic system. Interconnects for embedded applications require efficient CPU utilization, low latency, ease of implementation, and low cost to ensure that they don't overshadow the value of the larger system.
InfiniBand's strengths meet these requirements. Its hardware-based transport mechanisms move information from one systems memory to another with low latency and very little CPU processing. Its maturity (several generations and over 1 million ports shipped), open source drivers and Linux kernel support, and small PCB footprint make it easy to implement. Its maturity also makes it the most cost-effective industry-standard 10 Gb/s fabric available. Its no wonder InfiniBand is being used in applications outside of High Performance Computing.
Native InfiniBand is widely available in the server and storage systems. Its success in High Performance Computing is driving its acceptance in the data center markets and opening up new applications. InfiniBand is a suitable interconnect candidate for any application that requires efficient CPU utilization and low latency for communications, computing, management, and/or storage.
High-Speed Data Acquisition
Having an InfiniBand connection to a high resolution digital camera greatly facilitates getting data to a cluster of dedicated servers for analysis. The number of cameras could be fixed while the number of servers can be flexible depending on the amount of compute power that the analysis requires. More compute power can be added at a later date simply by adding more servers. The InfiniBand interconnect enables easy expansion while the small footprint and low cost of the mem-free host channel adapter and available software eases the implementation in the camera.
The PICMG 3.2 standard defines the use of InfiniBand in AdvancedTCA® equipment. Telecomm carrier grade chassis based on industry standard fabrics and data center modular servers are prime applications for ATCA equipment. The VMEbus Switched Serial Standard VITA 41 combined with dual-edge source synchronous transfer (2eSST) is another backplane standard that utilizes InfiniBand and is suitable for high-bandwidth military and industrial applications. The InfiniBand fabric is an ideal backplane interconnect because it supports up to 20 Gb/s links between cards and reliability through fault tolerance and redundancy.
Compute or Storage Aggregation
InfiniBand is an ideal interconnect for compute or storage aggregation regardless of how it connects to the rest of the network. Personal super computers are being built by interconnecting four to 12 servers with an InfiniBand fabric that could be connected to a larger InfiniBand network or the local area network. Likewise massive storage units are being built by aggregating many smaller units together with an InfiniBand network. The end user only sees a chassis with the aggregate capability of all of the units inside and the network manager need not know about, nor manage, the InfiniBand fabric tying the units together. This hidden fabric enables the cost effective building of such compute or storage units.