Analysts Boost InfiniBand Outlook

By Michael Feldman

April 18, 2008

Buoyed by the recent good news of IDC’s upgraded forecast for InfiniBand (IB) adoption, the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) has been trumpeting the fabric’s growing prospects in both HPC and more traditional enterprise settings. With the OpenFabrics Alliance driving standardized software solutions for Linux and Windows and InfiniBand vendors coming to market with 40 Gbps switches and adapters, there’s little doubt that the fabric has the potential to go mainstream. All the interested parties have been working hard to make that happen.

Most of the impediments to InfiniBand are outside of the technology itself. The latest 40 Gbps (QDR) InfiniBand technology would not be practical without the new PCI Express 2.0 chipsets that are just now going mainstream. Optical or active copper cables will also be required in applications that need larger clusters or better signal integrity. These cable products are just coming into the market now, but the lower volumes needed for InfiniBand deployments will tend to keep prices high.

Despite that, InfiniBand’s prospects look bright. Based on better than expected 2007 shipments of DDR switches and adapters, IDC has cranked up its InfiniBand forecast for 2008, placing it on a steeper growth curve than the previous May 2007 forecast. Last year the expectation was that DDR would not overtake SDR until 2008. But that crossover has already occurred. Based on the new data, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) forecast for HCA revenue went from 29 percent to 35 percent ($279.7 million by 2011) and the CAGR forecast for switch revenue increased from 45 percent to 47.1 percent ($656.3 million by 2011).

Though the numbers were bumped only modestly, the trend is telling. Behind the vendors, analysts are often the second line of cheerleaders for the market. In this case, they were uncharacteristicly conservative.

Perhaps the most interesting development for InfiniBand is the interest the technology has drawn from outside the HPC base. The desire for real-time transactions with terabyte-sized databases is putting a strain on existing networks. Mainstream enterprise applications in areas such as eCommerce, financial services, health services, retail, supply chain management and Web services represent a greenfield market for InfiniBand.

Two of the biggest technology drivers are multicore processors and virtualization, both of which increase demands on I/O performance. As platforms become denser, the advantages of consolidating I/O onto a single, high-bandwidth wire become more attractive. IDC is predicting InfiniBand will represent more than 10 percent of switch revenue by 2011.

In the past six to nine months, InfiniBand has started to penetrate the enterprise datacenter in earnest. Some Oracle RAC and IBM DB2 setups are now using IB connectivity, and Mellanox says there are more than 30 proof-of-concept deployments for VMware on top of InfiniBand.

Alexa Internet, an Amazon subsidiary, deployed InfiniBand to power its search engine. Using the NFS over RDMA (NFSoRDMA) protocol to crawl its 240 terabytes of Web data, Alexa was able to run its data mining application at 1/5 the cost of an equivalent 10GbE-connected storage setup. NFSoRDMA is a high-level protocol that bypasses the TCP/IP network baggage and takes advantage of InfiniBand’s inherently high bandwidth and low latency. With NFSoRDMA being accepted in mainline Linux kernels later this year, InfiniBand-connected storage should become increasingly attractive.

Enterprise storage, in general, is one area where InfiniBand seems poised for big growth. The Taneja Group, a consistent proponent of the technology, recently released its forecast for native InfiniBand storage in the datacenter. Based on its surveys of vendors like DataDirect Networks, Engenio, Xiranet, Terrascale and IBRIX, over the last three years, they’ve seen a growth rate for native InfiniBand storage of 60-70 percent. They expect that level of growth to continue as the demand for compute and I/O intensive applications continues to increase and the datacenter becomes more consolidated through virtualization. The better scalability of IB fabrics will attract large-scale storage deployments, but even more modest installations can take advantage of the better performance.

According the Taneja report, “Today, storage and server administrators in even run of the mill enterprises are more often than not facing HPC-like computing needs, or will be facing one in the near future. In our view, once a system approaches 16 nodes and requires substantial I/O, connections to communication and storage fabrics make traditional connectivity impractical.”

Taneja sees InfiniBand technology with a sustained advantage in bandwidth and latency — one that cannot be matched by either 10 Gigabit Ethernet or Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). QDR InfiniBand products that will be introduced into the market in the second half of 2008 will extend that advantage even further. With the advent of solid state drives, the microsecond latency characteristics of InfiniBand will make it the fabric of choice for these devices.

Especially outside of the HPC realm, increased adoption of InfiniBand storage will likely start with connecting the fabric to a Fibre Channel gateway. As FC get squeezed out of the datacenter by both InfiniBand and Ethernet, the gateway will get tossed in favor of a direct connect. Despite the recent flurry of FCoE product introductions (Cisco Systems, Emulex and QLogic) at last week’s Storage Networking World in Orlando, standard products are probably a year away. In the meantime, InfiniBand consolidation is viable today and will have a performance advantage even after FCoE goes mainstream.

That’s not to say Ethernet will be shut out of the storage market. Even IB-loving Mellanox is pushing out 10GbE products in parallel with their InfiniBand offerings. Their latest ConnectX FCoE adapter was also announced at Storage Networking World last week and is part of the company’s fabric-neutral strategy of unifying data traffic on a single I/O pipe. But like most IB vendors, Mellanox sees InfiniBand as the clear choice where bandwidth and latency are driving the application requirements. Ethernet will continue to be the favorite where I/O performance is not the critical factor, which is still the case in the majority of applications.  Because of the diverse nature of enterprise applications, InfiniBand and Ethernet are destined to share the datacenter for the foreseeable future.

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!

ABB Upgrades Produce Up to 30 Percent Energy Reduction for HPE Supercomputers

June 6, 2020

The world’s supercomputers are currently allied in a common goal: defeating COVID-19. To analyze the billions upon billions of molecules that might produce helpful therapeutics (or even a vaccine), an unimaginable amou Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputers Take to the Solar Winds

June 5, 2020

The whims of the solar winds – charged particles flowing from the Sun’s atmosphere – can interfere with systems that are now crucial for modern life, such as satellites and GPS services – but these winds can be d Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC in O&G: Deep Sea Drilling – What Happens Now   

June 4, 2020

At the beginning of March I attended the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. That seems a long time ago now. It’s a great event where oil and gas specialists join with compute veterans and the discussion tell Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCSA’s next generation of supercomputers post-Blue Waters,” Read more…

By John Russell

Dell Integrates Bitfusion for vHPC, GPU ‘Pools’

June 3, 2020

Dell Technologies advanced its hardware virtualization strategy to AI workloads this week with the introduction of capabilities aimed at expanding access to GPU and HPC services via its EMC, VMware and recently acquired Read more…

By George Leopold

AWS Solution Channel

Join AWS, Univa and Intel for This Informative Session!

Event Date: June 18, 2020

More enterprises than ever are turning to HPC cloud computing. Whether you’re just getting started, or more mature in your use of cloud, this HPC Cloud webinar is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable insights and knowledge to help accelerate your HPC cloud projects. Read more…

Supercomputers Streamline Prediction of Dangerous Arrhythmia

June 2, 2020

Heart arrhythmia can prove deadly, contributing to the hundreds of thousands of deaths from cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, many of those arrhythmia are induced as side effects from various medicati Read more…

By Staff report

NCSA Wades into Post-Blue Waters Era with Delta Supercomputer

June 3, 2020

NSF has awarded the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) $10 million for its next supercomputer - named Delta – “which will kick-start NCS Read more…

By John Russell

Indiana University to Deploy Jetstream 2 Cloud with AMD, Nvidia Technology

June 2, 2020

Indiana University has been awarded a $10 million NSF grant to build ‘Jetstream 2,’ a cloud computing system that will provide 8 aggregate petaflops of comp Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

COVID-19 HPC Consortium Expands to Europe, Reports on Research Projects

May 28, 2020

The COVID-19 HPC Consortium, a public-private effort delivering free access to HPC processing for scientists pursuing coronavirus research – some utilizing AI Read more…

By Doug Black

$100B Plan Submitted for Massive Remake and Expansion of NSF

May 27, 2020

Legislation to reshape, expand - and rename - the National Science Foundation has been submitted in both the U.S. House and Senate. The proposal, which seems to Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Boosts Deep Learning Accuracy on Memristive Chips

May 27, 2020

IBM researchers have taken another step towards making in-memory computing based on phase change (PCM) memory devices a reality. Papers in Nature and Frontiers Read more…

By John Russell

Hats Over Hearts: Remembering Rich Brueckner

May 26, 2020

HPCwire and all of the Tabor Communications family are saddened by last week’s passing of Rich Brueckner. He was the ever-optimistic man in the Red Hat presiding over the InsideHPC media portfolio for the past decade and a constant presence at HPC’s most important events. Read more…

Nvidia Q1 Earnings Top Expectations, Datacenter Revenue Breaks $1B

May 22, 2020

Nvidia’s seemingly endless roll continued in the first quarter with the company announcing blockbuster earnings that exceeded Wall Street expectations. Nvidia Read more…

By Doug Black

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Contributors

Tech Conferences Are Being Canceled Due to Coronavirus

March 3, 2020

Several conferences scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, including Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC) and the Strata Data + AI conference, have Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Exascale Watch: El Capitan Will Use AMD CPUs & GPUs to Reach 2 Exaflops

March 4, 2020

HPE and its collaborators reported today that El Capitan, the forthcoming exascale supercomputer to be sited at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and serve Read more…

By John Russell

Cray to Provide NOAA with Two AMD-Powered Supercomputers

February 24, 2020

The United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week announced plans for a major refresh of its operational weather forecasting supercomputers, part of a 10-year, $505.2 million program, which will secure two HPE-Cray systems for NOAA’s National Weather Service to be fielded later this year and put into production in early 2022. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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