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IT-Director: System I/O fabric to transform computing architecture model

Sep 03, 1999, 20:23 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Cheshire Cat)

"Peace has been declared, it was announced yesterday, between the vendors involved in defining a replacement for the PCI bus."

"The keyword is 'fabric'. System I/O is a fabric-based architecture, which enables any device to communicate to any other device. Hardware switching is used to enable far higher throughput speeds than previously available, from 2.5Gb to 6Gb per second - this compares with a measly 132Mb per second from PCI. ...suggesting that PC devices such as processors, network cards and memory will no longer be limited by bus bandwidth (particularly as the 6Gb top end will probably be extended in the future)..."

"...system vendors are not the only organisations experimenting with switched fabrics. One notable group is the storage community, for whom the switched fibre architecture is key to the SAN strategies of most companies... What interests the storage vendors is the ability to link switches (by fibre) over long distances: currently, the maximum distances between switches are touted as between 10Km and 50Km. ...a single, conceptual device, running a single operating system could in fact be a pair of mirrored devices, each with its own processor, disk and memory. The processor, disk, memory and graphics card become devices in their own right which, with the inclusion of a switched fabric with a fibre interconnect, could be physically positioned anywhere in a 50km radius but which could be configured dynamically to make best use of the resources at a given time."

"...the inclusion of IP version 6 in the System I/O specification... effectively removes the need to consider system components as part of the same machine, virtual or otherwise. The Internet is currently IP V4, but IP V6 will be included in most network-ready devices in the future. The potential is clear - that the system bus replacement, System I/O, becomes an integral part of the Internet infrastructure. How this will happen is still a matter for speculation, but the potential this has, of moving us into a device-based world in which bandwidth is a forgotten issue, is clear."

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