InfiniBand Rides HPC Wave Into the Enterprise

By Michael Feldman

June 1, 2007

Last week, IDC released a report that projects a rather healthy future for InfiniBand (IB) adoption over the next five years. The study predicts that InfiniBand host channel adaptor factory revenues will grow from $62.3 million in 2006 to $224.7 million in 2011, while InfiniBand switch port sales are expected to grow from $94.9 million to $612.2 million over the same period. By the end of the decade, the deployments of double data rate and quad data rate InfiniBand adapters are expected to overtake their single data rate forbearers.

Compared to Ethernet or Fibre Channel, InfiniBand has the advantage of providing a high bandwidth, low latency interconnect in a less expensive package. Current implementations are being delivered at 10, 20 and 40 Gbps, with products in the works for 120 Gbps. Its superior performance has made it the interconnect of choice in many HPC deployments. According to the latest Top500 list, 12 percent of the top systems use InfiniBand, up from 5 percent just a year ago. By itself , this statistic is largely irrelevant. The fact that 60 or so of the fastest computers use a particular interconnect may give the IB vendors some bragging rights, but it doesn't say much about overall industry adoption. What is important is that InfiniBand's use is expanding in commercial cluster computing, where interconnect performance and price-performance is the driving factor. This includes such applications as automotive crash simulations, oil and gas reservoir simulations, and financial analytics. These kinds of computing workloads have become mainstream as HPC has become a cost-effective tool for a wide array of businesses.

But much of the projected growth of InfiniBand is expected outside of its traditional role in connecting high performance computing servers and storage — in mainstream datacenters. The IDC report makes the case that the growth of multicore processors, server virtualization, and I/O consolidation is going to drive InfiniBand adoption in the enterprise. All three of these trends are helping to make systems more computationally dense, which requires proportionately more communication bandwidth per server and per storage device. Besides raw performance, InfiniBand includes quality-of-service (QoS) features that enable multiple types of traffic to be safely managed over a single pipe.

Over the past few years, more mainstream enterprise users have started using InfiniBand. This is especially apparent in the capital markets, where the goal for ever-faster automated trading is on a collision course with increasing trade volumes. In this environment, even sub-second delays in transactions can cost millions of dollars. The types of computing systems that manage these trades have come under increased scrutiny as financial engineers ponder how best to minimize transaction latencies and enhance trade predictibility. Wombat Financial Software and Reuters are two companies that have qualified their market feed applications on InfiniBand technology to address these stringent performance requirements. InfiniBand's market penetration in this sector is largely unknown, since financial institutions tend to be rather tight-lipped about what goes on inside their datacenters. But with so much money in the balance, one can assume that all market trading institutions are taking a hard look at InfiniBand.

SOA platforms can benefit from high performance interconnects too. In May, TIBCO Software announced it had qualified its message passing middleware on top of Cisco's InfiniBand Server Fabric Switches to enhance performance and predictability for event-driven SOA. The types of applications targeted include data distribution, web services and order management systems. Order management, in particular, is becoming a time-critical component of inventory control for many companies. TIBCO claims their IB-enabled platform increased throughput by a factor of four, while reducing latency.

Database clustering, as is used in Oracle's 10G RAC and IBM's DB2, is another prime target. Following the general model of concentrating computational power into smaller boxes, database clusters are becoming more dependent on high performance interconnects to talk between the nodes. For databases applications, there is the additional incentive to unify the interconnect fabric with the storage components. JDA, a provider of supply chain management software, is using InfiniBand to improve system throughput on its platform. Using an Oracle 10G RAC system and QLogic InfiniBand gear, the company was able to decrease the time to plan one million SKUs (Stock Keep Units) from 66 minutes, with Gigabit Ethernet, to 25 minutes, with InfiniBand. They were also able to realize a 35 percent cost advantage by switching from Ethernet to InfiniBand.

It's no surprise that as the application and database tiers in the datacenter start to act like HPC systems, they will start to look like them. In doing so, we're bound to see InfiniBand adoption increase in the larger enterprise market. Since IB technology is projected to maintain its performance and price-performance advantage for at least the next five years, users will look to InfiniBand for their most challenging interconnect demands.

That's not to say Ethernet or Fibre Channel are going away. Both are established standards and have momentum that will carry them for a long time. The massive set of applications that are run on standard Ethernet will insure its longevity. For the foreseeable future, Ethernet is expected to represent the most common networking technology in the world. The web tier of the enterprise is one area where Ethernet has no serious challengers. And if you've been reading this publication for any length of time, you know that creative engineers have been devising new ways to enhance the performance and predictibility of Ethernet.

The culture of the InfiniBand vendors has matured as well. There's little talk of InfiniBand conquering the world these days. Even IB evangelists like Mellanox and Voltaire are shipping Ethernet products. Over the past couple of years, acquisition of companies like Topspin (Cisco), PathScale and Silverstorm (QLogic) has brought InfiniBand into more enterprise-focused vendors. The realization that all the standard network interconnects will live peaceably in the datacenter may be sinking in.

“From the Mellanox perspective we have technology that will address both markets,” says Thad Omura, Mellanox VP of Product Marketing. “We're layering one growth market on top of another. It's no secret that 10 Gigabit Ethernet will emerge at some point. There's no reason why we shouldn't address the 10Gig solution for LANs and continue to drive InfiniBand as the best price-performance interconnect for servers and storage.”

—–

As always, comments about HPCwire are welcomed and encouraged. Write to me, Michael Feldman, at [email protected].

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

China’s Tencent Server Design Will Use AMD Rome

November 13, 2019

Tencent, the Chinese cloud giant, said it would use AMD’s newest Epyc processor in its internally-designed server. The design win adds further momentum to AMD’s bid to erode rival Intel Corp.’s dominance of the glo Read more…

By George Leopold

NCSA Industry Conference Recap – Part 1

November 13, 2019

Industry Program Director Brendan McGinty welcomed guests to the annual National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Industry Conference, October 8-10, on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana (UIUC). On Read more…

By Elizabeth Leake, STEM-Trek

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing components with Intel Xeon, AMD Epyc, IBM Power, and Arm server ch Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel AI Summit: New ‘Keem Bay’ Edge VPU, AI Product Roadmap

November 12, 2019

At its AI Summit today in San Francisco, Intel touted a raft of AI training and inference hardware for deployments ranging from cloud to edge and designed to support organizations at various points of their AI journeys. Read more…

By Doug Black

SIA Recognizes Robert Dennard with 2019 Noyce Award

November 12, 2019

If you don’t know what Dennard Scaling is, the chances are strong you don’t labor in electronics. Robert Dennard, longtime IBM researcher, inventor of the DRAM and the fellow for whom Dennard Scaling was named, is th Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Leveraging Exaflops Performance to Remediate Nuclear Waste

November 12, 2019

Nuclear waste storage sites are a subject of intense controversy and debate; nobody wants the radioactive remnants in their backyard. Now, a collaboration between Berkeley Lab, Pacific Northwest National University (PNNL Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quant Read more…

By John Russell

Tackling HPC’s Memory and I/O Bottlenecks with On-Node, Non-Volatile RAM

November 8, 2019

On-node, non-volatile memory (NVRAM) is a game-changing technology that can remove many I/O and memory bottlenecks and provide a key enabler for exascale. Th Read more…

By Jan Rowell

MLPerf Releases First Inference Benchmark Results; Nvidia Touts its Showing

November 6, 2019

MLPerf.org, the young AI-benchmarking consortium, today issued the first round of results for its inference test suite. Among organizations with submissions wer Read more…

By John Russell

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed ins Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Launches Credit Card-Sized 21 TOPS Jetson System for Edge Devices

November 6, 2019

Nvidia has launched a new addition to its Jetson product line: a credit card-sized (70x45mm) form factor delivering up to 21 trillion operations/second (TOPS) o Read more…

By Doug Black

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Spending Spree: Hyperscalers Bought $57B of IT in 2018, $10B+ by Google – But Is Cloud on Horizon?

October 31, 2019

Hyperscalers are the masters of the IT universe, gravitational centers of increasing pull in the emerging age of data-driven compute and AI.  In the high-stake Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This