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Intel Buys InfiniBand IP From QLogic

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Intel has acquired the intellectual property for the InfiniBand interconnect standard from QLogic, furthering its exascale computing plans

Intel bolstered its networking industry standing on 23 January by acquiring the InfiniBand intellectual property – and bringing on board the people who run it – from networking processor and software maker QLogic.

The deal, expected to close by the end of the current quarter, set back Intel by $125 million (£80m). QLogic also makes Fibre Channel switches, routers, adapters, and ASICs.

Low-latency standard

InfiniBand is a low-latency, high-bandwidth system interconnect standard that delivers high-speed data rates over short distances, such as within a single data centre or connecting two adjacent data centres. It is specifically designed to combine the computing power of numerous machines into one supercomputer.

InfiniBand is available in several enterprise products from companies such as Oracle (for its high-speed Exadata and Exalogic servers), IBM (in its System p servers), EMC Isilon (high-end storage), and others.

“Consistent with what we’ve said in the past, we are firmly committed to high-performance computing, and it’s becoming a bigger part of our server portfolio in terms of revenue,” Kirk Skaugen, vice president and general manager for Intel’s data centre and connected systems group, told eWEEK.

Skaugen said that the acquisition will provide scalable HPC fabric networking as well as support the company’s vision of innovating on fabric architectures to achieve ExaFLOP/s performance by 2018. An ExaFLOP/s is a quintillion computer operations per second, a hundred times more than today’s fastest supercomputers.

“We have a conviction that we want to reach an exascale performance by 2018 – within 20 megawatts. Technically speaking, people know that this requires a deeper level of (data centre systems) fabric and integration over time to accomplish that,” Skaugen said.

Exascale computing

Exascale computing refers to computing capabilities beyond the currently existing petascale. If achieved, exascale computing would represent a thousandfold increase over that scale. Supercomputing analysts have projected that the IT industry should be able to implement this by 2018.

The exascale initiative has been endorsed by two US agencies: the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The IT would be used in various computation-intensive research areas, such as basic research, engineering, earth science, biology, materials science, energy issues, and national security.

The US federal government allocated $126 million for exascale computing for implementation in 2012.