Two feuding server I/O standards camps have put aside their differences and will combine their system architectures into a single specification for PC Server architecture, known as System I/O.
The Future I/O and Next Generation I/O initiatives have been in dispute since late last year. The conciliation between the two was foreshadowed by events at the Servertech 99 conference in May, when vendors from both camps hinted at their willingness to consider a merged standard (see Newswire 6 May, 1999).
The issue of which next generation standard would supercede PCI, which is unable to support the I/O needs of forthcoming high speed processors such as Intel's Merced, has soured relations in the server community.
While there was widespread consensus that fabric switched I/O architecture should replace PCI, disputes over which companies should control the technology saw big name vendors aligned in rival camps.
Chip giant Intel's heavyweight support for NGIO to prevail as a freely available open standard has been viewed as an attempt to boost its chip sales by commoditising the server market; a move which was backed by emerging server vendors including Dell and NEC.
For their part, top tier server vendors Compaq, IBM and Hewlett Packard were portrayed as eager to preserve their product differentiation and profit margins through backing the more proprietary FIO standard.
A new industry group will be formed to combine the technologies and a merged System I/O specification, which supports both conventional server I/O and inter-processor communication among parallel clusters, is expected to be released later this year.
The System I/O group will host a forum calling for industry involvement in the development of the standard in the next few weeks.
The move has been backed by Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.
Sun Microsystems vice president Greg Papadopoulos said a single open standard would go a long way towards satisfying customer demand for bandwidth and availability.
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