Woven Launches New 10 GbE Switch

By Michael Feldman

October 14, 2008

Woven Systems has expanded its Ethernet product lineup with a new 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) top-of-rack switch. The 24-port TRX 200 offers 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) wirespeed performance on each port and InfiniBand-like latencies. The TRX 200 joins Woven’s other two offerings, the 48-port Gigabit Ethernet TRX 100 top-of-rack switch and the 144-port 10 GbE “Fabric Switch” for the network core.

Like its Woven brethren, the TRX 200 is aimed at HPC and Web services — two markets where bandwidth and latency requirements exceed that of the standard enterprise setup. Leading-edge interconnect performance has been the norm in HPC environments for some time. But with the advent of the Web services industry, a whole new market is developing for high bandwidth, low latency infrastructure. In this area, search engines or any application that performs Web page indexing must often operate with soft real-time constraints, so node-to-node latencies must be kept to a minimum.

Bandwidth can always be overprovisioned with extra switches, but that doesn’t help the latency picture. Woven has specifically designed its products for InfiniBand-like latencies. Instead of store-and-forward switching used in standard Ethernet gear, Woven employs cut-through switching. The company claims latencies of 1.6µs for its flagship EFX 1000 switch.

Woven’s big story with the new TRX 200 top-of-rack switch is its pricing. At less than $500 per wirespeed 10 Gbps port ($11,995 for a single unit), Woven is pushing back against Arastra, its closest competitor in high-performance 10 GbE switching. When Arastra launched its line of Ethernet gear last year, it quoted $400 per port. But it’s not clear if that pricing applies across its entire product line. The new TRX against Arastra’s 24-port 7124S would be the real apples-to-apples comparison, since both products claim to offer bi-directional wirespeed performance (480 Gbps aggregate) plus low latency.

The closest Cisco gear is probably the 4900M, which is a top-of-rack switch for users transitioning from GbE to 10 GbE. But at a maximum aggregate throughput of just 320 Gbps, and latencies in the 2.6µs range (according to eWeek testing), the Cisco switch is really not in the same performance ballpark as the Woven and Arastra offerings. Also, with a price that starts at $22,000, the 4900M is at least twice as expensive as its upstart competition.*

The roadblocks remaining for the Woven offerings, and for 10 GbE switches in general, are price (compared to standard Gigabit Ethernet) and performance (compared to InfiniBand). But if you are an Ethernet vendor, time may be on your side.

Many in the industry are predicting that by 2010 10 GbE will move onto the server motherboard en masse, reducing the cost of connection from about $300 or $400 down to around $22 dollars. (The real cost to the buyer is even a bit less than that since motherboard manufacturers will be replacing the older GbE interfaces.) In that same year, the total cost of a 10 GbE connection will be just twice that of a GbE connection. In 2002, the 2x cost differential proved to be an inflection point for the transition from Fast Ethernet to GbE. “That will usher in a much bigger ramp for 10 GigE servers and thus the beginning of a large transformation of the datacenter,” predicts Woven VP of marketing Joe Ammirato.

If history does repeat itself, one of the first places we’re likely to see the GbE to 10 GbE transition is on the TOP500 list. Even today, 57 percent of the top “supercomputers” are based on GbE. It must be said, though, that in most of these cases, the interconnect is not the bottleneck for system performance, or if it is, it’s a tolerable one. For loosely-coupled, embarrassingly-parallel applications, node-to-node communications are only needed intermittently, so larger latencies and lower bandwidth are not as much of an issue.

For more tightly-coupled HPC applications, DDR InfiniBand is now the interconnect of choice. When 10 GbE goes mainstream, the choice becomes more difficult. Joe Ammirato says both performance and cost are catching up to InfiniBand, even without the benefit of native 10 GbE on the motherboard. When that happens, the interconnect interface becomes essentially free for Ethernet fabrics compared to InfiniBand, which will still require a $300 adapter.

DDR and QDR InfiniBand will still have the raw performance advantage, offering perhaps a half or a third the latency of the best Ethernet solutions and more than twice the bandwidth (QDR is 40 Gbps, but because the on-board PCIe interface limits how fast data can be moved, only about 25 Gbps is realized). Masum Mir, Woven’s senior product manager, admits that InfiniBand will remain viable, but the presence of affordable 10 GbE solutions will compete at the high end. Especially with larger clusters and more variable traffic data traffic patterns, Mir sees Ethernet solutions like theirs — with dynamic congestion avoidance and lossless fabric support — as the more flexible choice.

Certainly for end users looking for a longer ROI horizon, Ethernet will look less risky. The battle cry of all Ethernet vendors continues to be that Ethernet will prevail. This may be less true for HPC users, who have come to view InfiniBand as a more mainstream technology with each passing year. And with much of the discussion about 10 GbE still in the future tense, companies like Woven Systems will be required to push the technology uphill for the next couple of years.

*Update: A more accurate comparison may be with Cisco’s new Nexus 5020, a 40-port 10 GbE switch that offers wirespeed performance and a switch latency of 3.2µs. The 5020 can be expanded to up to 52 10 GbE ports to yield an aggregate throughput of 1 Tbps. At around $900 per port it’s twice as expensive as the Woven or Arastra gear, but the Cisco box also comes with support for Fibre Channel over Ethernet and Cisco Data Center Ethernet.

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!

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

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

Using HPC and Machine Learning to Predict Traffic Congestion

November 12, 2019

Traffic congestion is a never-ending logic puzzle, dictated by commute patterns, but also by more stochastic accidents and similar disruptions. Traffic engineers struggle to model the traffic flow that occurs after accid Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Mira Supercomputer Enables Cancer Research Breakthrough

November 11, 2019

Dynamic partial-wave spectroscopic (PWS) microscopy allows researchers to observe intracellular structures as small as 20 nanometers – smaller than those visible by optical microscopes – in three dimensions at a mill Read more…

By Staff report

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 (quantum annealing) – ion trap technology is edging into the QC 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

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. That’s the conclusion drawn by the scientists and researcher Read more…

By Jan Rowell

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

Cray Debuts ClusterStor E1000 Finishing Remake of Portfolio for ‘Exascale Era’

October 30, 2019

Cray, now owned by HPE, today introduced the ClusterStor E1000 storage platform, which leverages Cray software and mixes hard disk drives (HDD) and flash memory Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

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

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