Ethernet Innovations Take Aim at HPC

By Nicole Hemsoth

November 15, 2011

Formed in 2006, the Ethernet Alliance is the non-profit industry group dedicated to advancing Ethernet technology via initiatives aimed at improving interoperability and network performance. The original focus of the group was on bringing Ethernet into the mainstream, but the Ethernet Alliance has since moved forward to encourage the development of new Ethernet technologies in the face of skyrocketing demand for bandwidth.

John D’Ambrosia, chair of the Ethernet Alliance weighed in on the focus of the Ethernet Alliance at SC11, expanding on their interoperability goals and describing the overall role of Ethernet technologies in HPC.

HPCwire: What is the Ethernet Alliance demo showcasing at SC11?

John D’Ambrosia: The Ethernet Alliance is hosting an integrated, multi-vendor demo at SC11 showcasing Ethernet as the optimal solution for all datacenter needs. Ethernet, with its broad family of solutions and its roadmap to ever-higher speeds, is that protocol.

The demo highlights Ethernet’s capacity for seamless interoperability and highlights dependable, high-performance, low-cost solutions like 10GBASE-T, as well as advancements like 40 Gigabit Ethernet (40 GbE). Data center architects can continue to rely on Ethernet, and look to enhanced and emerging Ethernet transport technologies to achieve their ultimate goals.

The display further demonstrates 40 GbE as the next throughput and bandwidth stepping stone for data center applications, which inherently will establish the future upgrade path to 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE).

HPCwire: What Ethernet technologies are gaining in importance in HPC?

D’Ambrosia: There are several important technologies beginning to take hold in the HPC space. For example, RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) is a relatively new but promising transport that continues to gain traction in today’s datacenters.

Internet Wide Area RDMA Protocol (iWARP) is a proven remote direct memory access (RDMA) over Ethernet that has been ratified by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Providing cloud-ready transport with several large clusters scaled to thousands of nodes already in use, it negates the use of esoteric, risky networking and storage technologies requiring a complex amalgamation of routers, gateways, switches, software, and expertise to make HPC clusters excel.

Before the ratification of Data Center Bridging (DCB) in 2010, most datacenters have relied on Fiber Channel (FC) for lossless storage environments that could be used with confidence. With the advent of DCB, Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) has become a reality – enterprise datacenter architects can leverage current Fiber Channel investments while capitalizing on greater freedom of choice. It is now possible to migrate to increasingly popular Ethernet SAN and NAS file systems, yet maintain the lossless environment required for storage. Furthermore, with today’s ratified Ethernet-based iSCSI and FCoE storage transports, datacenter architects can now choose from a diverse array of interoperable, standard-based vendors.

10GBASE-T illustrates one of Ethernet’s solutions to deploying higher speeds for even conventional IT LAN solutions. Furthermore Ethernet, with its 40GbE and 100GbE families, is keeping apace of the continuing evolution of the PCIe bus on the motherboard, thus enabling 40 GbE and 100 GbE-based servers in the future.

HPCwire: Why interoperability is so important?

D’Ambrosia: Interoperability is critical not only because it offers consumers the ability to find solutions that best fit their needs, but also minimizes the threat of being locked into a single vendor or proprietary technology – undesirable situations for a myriad of reasons.

Proprietary, non-standard based technologies can trap users into a one-dimensional world where there are few choices outside of the chosen proprietary standard and an inability to change to a new one better fitting evolving datacenter needs. Choosing an Ethernet solution enables selecting product offerings from multiple vendors. 

HPCwire: Can you describe the migration path in HPC applications?

D’Ambrosia: In particular to HPC computational clusters, Ethernet has numerous advantages and unparalleled flexibility that suit Supercomputing well both today and far into the future.

As previously mentioned, iWARP is well-established, cloud-ready, supported by multiple chip vendors, and has several large node cluster use cases. The newly formed RoCE protocol also allows InfiniBand users to easily migrate to Ethernet, casting off the need for special switches and gateways required when using multiple protocols.  

HPCwire: What’s the most important take-away today about Ethernet for anyone in HPC? Where do you see it going in the future?

D’Ambrosia: The most important take away by far is that Ethernet, while being more than 40 years old when developed by Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, CA, is continually evolving and adapting as the mainstay for everyone’s networking needs.

The current Ethernet roadmap leads from 1G LAN on Motherboard (LOM) to 10, 40, and 100GbE.  It is a real world-tested and proven, ubiquitous protocol capable of meeting both current and future networking needs ranging from Supercomputing down to consumer LANs. Additionally, Ethernet’s ability to adapt to new and future DC needs negates costly investments – such as new equipment, software, and acquiring needed expertise – into new technologies. And with its unique range of application, from supercomputers to home networks, Ethernet’s technology superiority remains unmatched.

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!

Hedge Funds (with Supercomputing help) Rank First Among Investors

May 22, 2017

In case you didn’t know, The Quants Run Wall Street Now, or so says a headline in today’s Wall Street Journal. Quant-run hedge funds now control the largest Read more…

By John Russell

IBM, D-Wave Report Quantum Computing Advances

May 18, 2017

IBM said this week it has built and tested a pair of quantum computing processors, including a prototype of a commercial version. That progress follows an an Read more…

By George Leopold

PRACEdays 2017 Wraps Up in Barcelona

May 18, 2017

Barcelona has been absolutely lovely; the weather, the food, the people. I am, sadly, finishing my last day at PRACEdays 2017 with two sessions: an in-depth loo Read more…

By Kim McMahon

US, Europe, Japan Deepen Research Computing Partnership

May 18, 2017

On May 17, 2017, a ceremony was held during the PRACEdays 2017 conference in Barcelona to announce the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between PRACE in Europe Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Exploring the Three Models of Remote Visualization

The explosion of data and advancement of digital technologies are dramatically changing the way many companies do business. With the help of high performance computing (HPC) solutions and data analytics platforms, manufacturers are developing products faster, healthcare providers are improving patient care, and energy companies are improving planning, exploration, and production. Read more…

NSF, IARPA, and SRC Push into “Semiconductor Synthetic Biology” Computing

May 18, 2017

Research into how biological systems might be fashioned into computational technology has a long history with various DNA-based computing approaches explored. N Read more…

By John Russell

DOE’s HPC4Mfg Leads to Paper Manufacturing Improvement

May 17, 2017

Papermaking ranks third behind only petroleum refining and chemical production in terms of energy consumption. Recently, simulations made possible by the U.S. D Read more…

By John Russell

PRACEdays 2017: The start of a beautiful week in Barcelona

May 17, 2017

Touching down in Barcelona on Saturday afternoon, it was warm, sunny, and oh so Spanish. I was greeted at my hotel with a glass of Cava to sip and treated to a Read more…

By Kim McMahon

NSF Issues $60M RFP for “Towards a Leadership-Class” System

May 16, 2017

In case you missed it, the National Science Foundation issued the request for proposals (RFP) for the next ‘Towards a Leadership-Class Computing Facility – Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Offers Supercomputing as a Service, Targets Biotechs First

May 16, 2017

Leading supercomputer vendor Cray and datacenter/cloud provider the Markley Group today announced plans to jointly deliver supercomputing as a service. The init Read more…

By John Russell

HPE’s Memory-centric The Machine Coming into View, Opens ARMs to 3rd-party Developers

May 16, 2017

Announced three years ago, HPE’s The Machine is said to be the largest R&D program in the venerable company’s history, one that could be progressing tow Read more…

By Doug Black

What’s Up with Hyperion as It Transitions From IDC?

May 15, 2017

If you’re wondering what’s happening with Hyperion Research – formerly the IDC HPC group – apparently you are not alone, says Steve Conway, now senior V Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Launches Servers, Services, and Collaboration at GTC

May 10, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today launched a new liquid cooled GPU-driven Apollo platform based on SGI ICE architecture, a new collaboration with NVIDIA, a Read more…

By John Russell

IBM PowerAI Tools Aim to Ease Deep Learning Data Prep, Shorten Training 

May 10, 2017

A new set of GPU-powered AI software announced by IBM today brings automation to many of the tedious, time consuming and complex aspects of AI project on-rampin Read more…

By Doug Black

Bright Computing 8.0 Adds Azure, Expands Machine Learning Support

May 9, 2017

Bright Computing, long a prominent provider of cluster management tools for HPC, today released version 8.0 of Bright Cluster Manager and Bright OpenStack. The Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Azure Will Debut Pascal GPU Instances This Year

May 8, 2017

As Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference gets underway in San Jose, Calif., Microsoft today revealed plans to add Pascal-generation GPU horsepower to its Azure clo Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Last week, Google reported that its custom ASIC Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) was 15-30x faster for inferencing workloads than Nvidia's K80 GPU (see our coverage Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

Since our first formal product releases of OSPRay and OpenSWR libraries in 2016, CPU-based Software Defined Visualization (SDVis) has achieved wide-spread adopt Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a ne Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which w Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling Read more…

By Steve Campbell

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Eng Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu's Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural networ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

As China continues to prove its supercomputing mettle via the Top500 list and the forward march of its ambitious plans to stand up an exascale machine by 2020, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of "quantum supremacy," researchers are stretching the limits of today's most advance Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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