TopSpin has added the ability to remotely boot servers using InfiniBand to its latest switches.

The idea is InfiniBand becomes more than just an interconnect technology and, instead, turns into a vital part of the move toward virtual servers. Clusters of the future will need diskless blade servers to be used in utility computing setups.

Topspin's server switch can re-boot a blade server with an operating system image stored on disk, along with applications, storage and I/O resources, making the "stateless" server setup more effective and hence cheaper than existing networks.

Either an Ethernet or Fibre Channel gateway from TopSpin links to the storage (NAS or SAN) and tracks where the images are. When the blade server needs re-purposing it is rebooted using the switch. The remote booting takes a minute or so.

"Boot capabilities are simply the next natural evolution for InfiniBand," said Steve Duplessie, founder of the Enterprise Storage Group." InfiniBand is the de facto choice for high performance - and now large-scale clusters - for all the major systems players, so a boot ability was imperative. InfiniBand is what is going to make server virtualisation and the whole blade movement meaningful."

TopSpin's VP of marketing and product management, Stu Aaron, said: "With features like Boot over InfiniBand, we are giving our customers the ability to build large server clusters, and seamlessly transition those clusters into a grid for server virtualisation." TopSpin recently announced a partnership with Dell.

The product is in test at the moment and an April announcement is expected. No pricing information is currently available.