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InfiniBand company wins further funds

Topspin Communications won a third round of funding, $20 million it plans to use to expand sales and marketing of its gear based on the InfiniBand high-speed networking technology.

Topspin Communications won a third round of funding, $20 million it plans to use to expand sales and marketing of its gear based on the InfiniBand high-speed networking technology.

Meritech Capital Partners led the funding round, which also drew participation from all earlier investors, the company said Monday. Others in the round included Accel Partners, Advent International, Duff Ackerman & Goodrich, Presidio Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures.

The InfiniBand communication technology arrived later than expected and with a significantly diminished role. Where it once was expected to replace basic communication technology in servers, it's now seen as useful for high-end niches such as supercomputing.

InfiniBand still is highly regarded for its high speeds and minimal delays in shuttling information, and some companies have begun to advocate InfiniBand for a more mainstream computing challenge: housing databases.

Topspin, based in Mountain View, Calif., builds a switch that connects InfiniBand devices such as servers. It also includes connections with more traditional networking technologies such as Ethernet for ordinary computer networks and Fibre Channel for special-purpose storage networks. That combination means a server connected to a Topspin switch can use it to communicate with several types of networks without needing an adapter for each one.

Topspin also sells adapters that plug into servers so they can connect to InfiniBand networks.

Also Monday, Topspin said the Air Force Combat Climatology Center selected its switch for weather data processing. The switch will join a cluster of Linux computers to each other and to a storage system, Topspin said.

Topspin isn't the only company angling for the market. Last week, IBM announced it's using an InfiniBand switch from Voltaire to build a supercomputer at Mississippi State University called Maverick. The system has 192 dual-processor x335 Intel servers from IBM.

Topspin raised $30 million in July 2002 and has raised $67 million total so far. The company is a partner with Sun Microsystems, among others.