Switched-fabric networks get mixed review in new VDC study

There is good news and bad news for the InfiniBand switched-network computing fabric, according to a new study by industry analysts at the market research firm Venture Development Corp.

by John Keller

NATICK, Mass. — There is good news and bad news for the InfiniBand switched-network computing fabric, according to a new study by industry analysts at the market research firm Venture Development Corp. (VDC) of Natick, Mass.

The good news: InfiniBand not only is the best-known such fabric in the U.S. computing industry, but also is considered to have the best chance of future widespread adoption, says the VDC study entitled "Switch Fabric Architectures."

The bad news: most industry systems integrators have never even heard of any of the most promising switched-network fabrics, which are 3GIO, GigaBridge, HyperTransport, InfiniBand, Packet Switching Backplanes such as PICMG 2.16, RapidIO, and StarFabric, the VDC study says.

"VDC is confident that switch fabrics and other point-to-point communications technologies will comprise a major change in embedded computing," the VDC study states. "However, we believe that adoption among users could be accelerated through an increased understanding of potential benefits. To this end, we feel that a top-level educational process would be beneficial, aimed not a particular technologies but at the concept in general."

VDC analysts conducted an on-line survey of users of merchant computer boards for embedded real-time applications for the study, company officials say. The respondents included original equipment manufacturers, systems integrators, value-added resellers, and end users.

Of all the respondents, 53.7 percent said they were not familiar with any of the technologies mentioned. InfiniBand was familiar to 31.7 percent of respondents, while HyperTransport — the least familiar — was known to 6.7 percent of respondents, VDC officials say.

In the user awareness study, RapidIO came in second behind InfiniBand, StarFabric was third, PICMG 2.16 was fourth, 3GIO was fifth, GigaBridge was sixth, and HyperTransport brought up the rear.

In the anticipation of eventual wide-spread adoption study, InfiniBand was first, PICMG 2.16 was second, RapidIO was third, StarFabric was fourth, 3GIO was fifth, GigaBridge was sixth, and HyperTransport was seventh. About 33 percent of respondents predicted that none of the candidates would achieve widespread adoption.

For more information on the study, contact VDC by phone at 508-653-9000, by fax at 508-653-9836, by e-mail at ericg@vdc-corp.com, by post at One Apple Hill Drive, Suite Box 8190, Natick, Mass. 01760, or on the World Wide Web at http:// www.vdc-corp.com.

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