April 19, 2010

RDMA over 10 gigabit Ethernet has been a popular concept in the financial services industry. Remote direct memory access, or RDMA, allows data to move directly from the memory of one computer into that of another without involving the operating system, allowing high-throughput, low-latency networking. RDMA over 10 gigabit Ethernet in a data center typically involves using 10 gigabit Ethernet networking technology to provide both storage and networking interconnections, promising savings through consolidation.

Today, the InfiniBand Trade Association released a specification that mimics the performance of InfiniBand networks (currently used within many data covers) over more standard Ethernet networks by prioritizing traffic. The spec is called RDMA over Converged Ethernet, pronounced "Rocky."

Why would anyone want to do this? Why not just run RDMA over 10 gig E?

"This spec is all about choice," says Sujal Das, senior director of product management at Mellanox, who says the new spec brings customers the best of both worlds (InfiniBand and Ethernet) and lets customers move data at a rate of 40 gigabits per second. This could be useful for banks performing risk analyses and stress tests, as well as to improve overall performance in virtual server and desktop environments and cloud computing.

Some software based on the new spec is already available in the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) 1.5.1. More will be rolled out throughout this year.

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