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Energy Dept. funds open-source InfiniBand work

Three-year project will back programmers' effort to build Linux software support for the high-speed networking technology.

The U.S. Department of Energy has funded a consortium of InfiniBand advocates to build Linux software support for the high-speed networking technology.

The three-year project will support programmers at chipmaker Intel and InfiniBand equipment makers Voltaire and Topspin Communications, the department said Tuesday at the SC2004 supercomputing conference in Pittsburgh. The programmers' work will aid the OpenIB Alliance, an effort to create open-source InfiniBand support.

InfiniBand can be used to connect large numbers of servers to each other into a high-performance technical computing cluster; it's the plumbing for the world's second-fastest supercomputer, Silicon Graphics' Columbia. The networking technology also can connect those cluster elements to storage devices.

However, support for InfiniBand hardware currently relies on a number of proprietary and sometimes functionally different drivers from InfiniBand equipment makers, which complicates the widespread use of Linux in such clusters. The OpenIB Alliance, which includes the four major InfiniBand hardware makers, is trying to build a single open-source driver that will become part of the standard Linux kernel.

The DOE didn't disclose the size of the grant, but an OpenIB Alliance member said it will be enough to fund eight to 10 full-time programmers to work on the software.