Electronic Design

Little Software Secrets

An extensive specification, IBA provides great detail about hardware, protocols, and even how queue pair ports are mapped into virtual memory. Still, the IBA doesn't have an API. No aspect has an API specified for it, in-cluding how an operating system may provide access to the subnet, or how management services will be used.

This oversight isn't too surprising given the IBTA's makeup, but it could potentially generate a Tower of Babel in applications directly dealing with InfiniBand management. This particularly causes a problem when it comes to supporting vendor-specific features, as well as optional features in the IBA specification.

Lane15 Software and Vieo solve this problem with their own APIs. But the management hooks are provided for the respective fabric manager. These APIs will typically be used to create links to third-party management applications or custom applications, so few developers will see them. It makes things difficult for developers, though, hoping to access InfiniBand management services to build generalized management applications or add-ons.

It appears that InfiniBand is at too early a stage in its life cycle for any company or organization to push for standards. Some large software companies prefer to push proprietary solutions to the limit. This might not sit well with more open development environments, like Linux, whose supports could be the best source of cross-platform APIs in the near future. Maybe Vieo and Lane15 Software will get together and share APIs. Next year should prove interesting for InfiniBand.

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