Build a 10 Gbit home network for $1100

Summary:Create the ultimate gaming supercomputer? You've overclocked, water cooled, matched DIMMs, added 10k drives and the latest 1 GB video card.

Create the ultimate gaming supercomputer? You've overclocked, water cooled, matched DIMMs, added 10k drives and the latest 1 GB video card. But so have all your friends. What now? How about a 10 Gig home network for the ultimate gaming supercomputer?

In a pricing breakthrough you can now buy an 8-port 10 Gig switch, 2 PCI-Express 10 Gig adapters and cables for under $1100. It is the fastest network available for the dollar. Update: By comparison the cheapest 10 gigE NIC at Newegg is almost $900.

One word, my friend: Infiniband No, this isn't 10 Gig Ethernet. An average 10 GigE switch port costs over $2500 today and the overhead of TCP/IP will bog down even hefty systems unless you buy a costly TOE (TCP/IP Offload Engine) adapter. No, this is Infiniband, a high-speed, low-latency, low-overhead network widely used in supercomputers, high-end storage and clustered computing.

Originally spec'd in 1999 by Intel, Microsoft and Sun (ngio) and Compaq, IBM and HP (Future I/O) to replace PCI, Infiniband has evolved into a general-purpose high-performance interconnect. As volumes have grown, prices have dropped, but this latest price-cutting iteration took me by surprise.

Drivers are available for Linux, Windows XP and OS X - though serious gamers aren't likely to be using the latter. The kit is available from Colfax Direct, a new e-store subsidiary of 20 year-old Colfax International.

Some pricing from their web site:

  • PCI-Express 10 Gbit adapter: $125
  • 8-port unmanaged switch: $750
  • Cables: range from $35 to over $900 for plenum-rated 100 M length

The Storage Bits take Networks and storage can often substitute for each other. With a 10 Gig low-latency network you can configure diskless workstations that really scream. While today's Infiniband networks are practical only for serious gear heads, early adopters will help point the way to a not-to-distant future when we all have 10 Gig home networks.

Commments welcome, of course. Disclosure: I have no relationship, financial or otherwise, with Colfax. I worked with Colfax's chip provider, Mellanox, at a previous company and found them a pleasure to deal with.

Topics: Networking


Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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