Low Latency 10 GigE Looks to Build HPC Cred

By Michael Feldman

September 10, 2009

It’s probably no coincidence that at next Monday’s High Performance Computing on Wall Street event, two of the conference headliners will be touting the joys of 10 Gigabit Ethernet for the financial digerati. Arista Networks founder Andy Bechtolsheim and BLADE Network Technologies CEO Vikram Mehta will explain why low latency 10 GigE technology has become so important to financial applications.

Since the demise of Woven Systems this past May, Arista and BLADE appear to be the only two remaining Ethernet vendors offering “ultra-low-latency” switching in a lossless fabric. The term “ultra” has no exact meaning, but since both vendors are touting sub-microsecond port-to-port latencies in their switch boxes, we can use that as an approximate definition. Sub-microsecond switch latency brings Ethernet into the InfiniBand realm, and makes this technology suitable for all sorts of HPC mischief.

Although the deployment of 10 GigE into HPC has been occurring in slow motion, 2009 may finally be the year it takes off. In July, Purdue University announced “Coates,” a new 10 GigE supercomputer cluster that is expected to nab a top 50 spot on the next TOP500 list. And this week, Linux Magazine’s Douglas Eadline outlined some reasons why he believes 10 GigE will start to gain significant traction in HPC over the 12 months.

My 10 GigE prediction is based on the following rule of thumb, Speed, Simplicity, Cost, pick any two. I believe 10 GigE will win because of simplicity and cost. IB is already faster and has better latency and if you need this level of performance you are not even looking at Ethernet direction. The joy of clustering is that one size does not fit all and you can build your cluster around your needs.

The expectation is that 10 GigE LAN-on-motherboard controllers will become commonplace on servers over the next 12 months and will tip the economic equilibrium toward the new technology. And thanks to faster switch ASICs and more mature software, lower-cost switches from companies like Arista and BLADE will also help to bring 10 GigE into mainstream service.

Today, both companies are offering top of rack switches in the $400 to $500 per port range. BLADE’s Mehta recently told me they intend to be the first ones to break the $100 per port barrier, which would put it on par with high-end Ethernet switch pricing. And unlike Woven Systems, BLADE and Arista look to be at least reasonably financially stable.

BLADE, a private company, just announced its best quarterly revenues for Q309. According to Dell’Oro Group’s Q209 Ethernet Switch Quarterly Report, the company is now the third largest supplier of 10 GigE switches, although Cisco still owns the lion’s share of the market. (Purdue’s Coates super mentioned above is based on Cisco and Chelsio network gear.) However, in the wake of Cisco’s entrance into the server business, BLADE has aggressively gone after Cisco OEM partners, who now see the big network vendor as direct competition. Today BLADE’s OEM relationships extend to IBM, HP, NEC and Verari Systems and are starting to pay dividends. The company says it has collected over 9,000 customers spread over 26 industry verticals.

BLADE also just completed $10 million in Series B funding, bringing on board three new investors: NEC, Juniper Networks, and an unnamed new investor, which Mehta characterized as a “big technology powerhouse.” The investment from Juniper Networks is an interesting one, inasmuch as Juniper is also an Ethernet switch vendor. But the two companies have collaborated before — although the exact nature of that collaboration remains somewhat of a mystery — which could lead one to believe that these kids might get married someday, and present a more formidable threat to Cisco.

The younger Arista is not nearly as far along as BLADE, business-wise. On Dell’Oro’s Ethernet switch report, the company doesn’t even show up on the list, since presumably its market share is less than 0.1 percent, placing it in the “others” category. Nevertheless, the company does have $100 million in committed funding, which is presumably backed up by billionaire Bechtolsheim’s giga-dollars. And since the company started shipping Ethernet switch gear in 2008, Arista has managed to collect around 100 customers, spread across HPC, manufacturing, health care and financial services.

But it’s the latter vertical that has become one of the most interesting for 10 GigE vendors. Despite the fact that both Arista and BLADE have positioned themselves as cloud network providers (along with every other network vendor in existence), today the financial services space provides 30 percent of the revenue for each of these companies. A big chunk of this money is coming from the uber-profitable high frequency trading (HFT) segment, where the cloud computing model is entirely absent. Minimizing latency is at the heart of HFT, which is why both Arista and BLADE have been successful with this particular Wall Street application. In fact, some people just refer to HFT as low latency trading.

In our special coverage of the High Performance Computing on Wall Street conference next week, we’ll delve more deeply into the importance of these companies in the HFT ecosystem and the financial services space in general.

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!

UCSD, AIST Forge Tighter Alliance with AI-Focused MOU

January 18, 2018

The rich history of collaboration between UC San Diego and AIST in Japan is getting richer. The organizations entered into a five-year memorandum of understanding on January 10. The MOU represents the continuation of a 1 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Tennessee), Satoshi Matsuoka (Tokyo Institute of Technology), Read more…

By John Russell

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown and Spectre security updates on the performance of popular H Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and NREL Take Steps to Create a Sustainable, Energy-Efficient Data Center with an H2 Fuel Cell

As enterprises attempt to manage rising volumes of data, unplanned data center outages are becoming more common and more expensive. As the cost of downtime rises, enterprises lose out on productivity and valuable competitive advantage without access to their critical data. Read more…

Fostering Lustre Advancement Through Development and Contributions

January 17, 2018

Six months after organizational changes at Intel's High Performance Data (HPDD) division, most in the Lustre community have shed any initial apprehension around the potential changes that could affect or disrupt Lustre Read more…

By Carlos Aoki Thomaz

UCSD, AIST Forge Tighter Alliance with AI-Focused MOU

January 18, 2018

The rich history of collaboration between UC San Diego and AIST in Japan is getting richer. The organizations entered into a five-year memorandum of understandi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fostering Lustre Advancement Through Development and Contributions

January 17, 2018

Six months after organizational changes at Intel's High Performance Data (HPDD) division, most in the Lustre community have shed any initial apprehension aroun Read more…

By Carlos Aoki Thomaz

When the Chips Are Down

January 11, 2018

In the last article, "The High Stakes Semiconductor Game that Drives HPC Diversity," I alluded to the challenges facing the semiconductor industry and how that may impact the evolution of HPC systems over the next few years. I thought I’d lift the covers a little and look at some of the commercial challenges that impact the component technology we use in HPC. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

ANL’s Rick Stevens on CANDLE, ARM, Quantum, and More

January 8, 2018

Late last year HPCwire caught up with Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for computing, environment and life Sciences at Argonne National Laboratory, f Read more…

By John Russell

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This