InfiniBand Hits the Accelerator

By Michael Feldman

June 8, 2010

Last week, the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) used the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC’10) to unveil the new roadmap for InfiniBand. In a nutshell, the IBTA is upping the signal rate from the current 10 Gbps to 26 Gbps on a single lane. Using a new coding scheme, a 4-lane configuration will deliver 100 Gbps of useful data for node-to-node communication. For switch-to-switch connectivity, the same technology will deliver up to 300 Gbps. The first products supporting these speeds are expected to arrive in late 2011 and early 2012.

The 100 Gbps data rate for node-to-node connectivity represents a bump up from the IBTA’s former roadmap of 80 Gbps they originally specified for 4X EDR. In fact, EDR originally stood for Eight Data Rate to represent the doubling of the current Quad Data Rate (QDR) specification. With the 100 Gbps acceleration, EDR now stands for Enhanced Data Rate. (Yes, the marketing folks must have been up all night coming up with that one.)

The IBTA has also invented a sort of half-EDR, called Fourteen Data Rate, or FDR, which yields 50 Gbps (56 Gbps signal rate) in a 4-lane configuration. FDR was added for “midrange enterprise datacenter solutions,” according to the IBTA. That places it 10 Gbps ahead of the emerging 40 GigE standard, expected to arrive soon, and well ahead of the 10 GigE solutions making their way into the datacenter today.

The new coding scheme uses a more efficient 64/66 encoding that delivers a much better useful data rate than the current 8B/10B scheme. So instead of delivering 32 Gbps from a 40 Gbps QDR signal rate (80 percent efficient), as it does today, EDR will actually yield 100 Gbps of useful data from a raw signal rate of 104 Gbps (almost 97 percent efficient). That three-fold bandwidth improvement represents the biggest jump in InfiniBand performance in its decade long history.

Although latency is not directly addressed by the new specification, it’s likely that this too will improve due to more performant InfiniBand ASICs that will be required to drive the faster signaling rates. Port-to-port latency for QDR implementations are already in the sub-microsecond range.

The new IBTA roadmap seems, in part, designed to blunt some of the latest Ethernet performance advancements. Although the original 80 Gbps EDR would have easily outrun the new 40 GigE standard for cluster connectivity, the 50 and 100 Gbps InfiniBand speed puts even more daylight between the two solutions, and will do so at less power and cost than corresponding Ethernet solutions. Although InfiniBand is mostly geared for HPC infrastructure, vendors are looking to expand into cloud computing, telecom, Web 2.0, retail banking, and other network-bound application areas that have until now been almost entirely under the domain of Ethernet.

For more traditional InfiniBand applications, the speedier data rates are designed to keep pace with the ever-increasing bandwidth requirements of HPC clusters, which are continually expanding outward (more server nodes) and upward (more cores per server). “Based upon the latest technologies coming out, in terms of PCI-Express 3.0, more cores per CPU, and now GPU computing, it seemed that 80 gigs just wasn’t enough for the time — 2012 and beyond,” explained Brian Sparks, senior director of marketing communications at Mellanox and co-chair of the IBTA’s Marketing Working Group.

Further down the road, IBTA is planning to come up with HDR and then NDR versions of the technology, but the specific timeframes and data rates for those specifications are yet to be determined. Suffice to say that the InfiniBand roadmap is well ahead that of Ethernet, performance-wise, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

The greater bandwidth for EDR and FDR will be especially welcome news for the optical cable and active copper cable vendors. Conventional (passive) copper cabling can’t reach much beyond 10 meters at the current 40 Gbps speeds. At 50 and 100 Gbps, those cable distances will get much shorter, setting the stage for a broader deployment of optical and other active cabling solutions.

The other promising news for InfiniBand proponents last week was its strong showing on the TOP500 list. The latest rankings have 207 systems using InfiniBand as the interconnect, up from 151 just a year ago. GigE-based systems, on the other hand, are down to 242 systems, from 282 in June 2009. Unless 10 GigE systems make a big surge in high-end HPC, it looks like this time next year, InfiniBand will officially take over as the dominant interconnect for the top supercomputers.

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!

Data Vortex Users Contemplate the Future of Supercomputing

October 19, 2017

Last month (Sept. 11-12), HPC networking company Data Vortex held its inaugural users group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) bringing together about 30 participants from industry, government and academia t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Self-Training Goes Forward at Google DeepMind

October 19, 2017

DeepMind, Google’s AI research organization, announced today in a blog that AlphaGo Zero, the latest evolution of AlphaGo (the first computer program to defeat a Go world champion) trained itself within three days to play Go at a superhuman level (i.e., better than any human) – and to beat the old version of AlphaGo – without leveraging human expertise, data or training. Read more…

By Doug Black

Researchers Scale COSMO Climate Code to 4888 GPUs on Piz Daint

October 17, 2017

Effective global climate simulation, sorely needed to anticipate and cope with global warming, has long been computationally challenging. Two of the major obstacles are the needed resolution and prolonged time to compute Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Transforming Genomic Analytics with HPC-Accelerated Insights

Advancements in the field of genomics are revolutionizing our understanding of human biology, rapidly accelerating the discovery and treatment of genetic diseases, and dramatically improving human health. Read more…

Student Cluster Competition Coverage New Home

October 16, 2017

Hello computer sports fans! This is the first of many (many!) articles covering the world-wide phenomenon of Student Cluster Competitions. Finally, the Student Cluster Competition coverage has come to its natural home: H Read more…

By Dan Olds

Data Vortex Users Contemplate the Future of Supercomputing

October 19, 2017

Last month (Sept. 11-12), HPC networking company Data Vortex held its inaugural users group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) bringing together ab Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Self-Training Goes Forward at Google DeepMind

October 19, 2017

DeepMind, Google’s AI research organization, announced today in a blog that AlphaGo Zero, the latest evolution of AlphaGo (the first computer program to defeat a Go world champion) trained itself within three days to play Go at a superhuman level (i.e., better than any human) – and to beat the old version of AlphaGo – without leveraging human expertise, data or training. Read more…

By Doug Black

Student Cluster Competition Coverage New Home

October 16, 2017

Hello computer sports fans! This is the first of many (many!) articles covering the world-wide phenomenon of Student Cluster Competitions. Finally, the Student Read more…

By Dan Olds

Intel Delivers 17-Qubit Quantum Chip to European Research Partner

October 10, 2017

On Tuesday, Intel delivered a 17-qubit superconducting test chip to research partner QuTech, the quantum research institute of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. The announcement marks a major milestone in the 10-year, $50-million collaborative relationship with TU Delft and TNO, the Dutch Organization for Applied Research, to accelerate advancements in quantum computing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu Tapped to Build 37-Petaflops ABCI System for AIST

October 10, 2017

Fujitsu announced today it will build the long-planned AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure (ABCI) which is set to become the fastest supercomputer system in Japan Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

Intel Debuts Programmable Acceleration Card

October 5, 2017

With a view toward supporting complex, data-intensive applications, such as AI inference, video streaming analytics, database acceleration and genomics, Intel i Read more…

By Doug Black

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

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

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

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

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... 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

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

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