On the Verge of Cloud 2.0

By Tiffany Trader

April 26, 2013

Last week Mellanox debuted a new network interconnect adapter, ConnectX-3 Pro. Like the ConnectX-3 architecture that it is based on, this multi-protocol device supports InfiniBand and Ethernet connectivity, but its big advantage is providing hardware offloads for overlay networks commonly used in cloud infrastructures.

In fact, Mellanox is framing this new card as the world’s first cloud offload interconnect solution. According to Gilad Shainer, Mellanox vice president of marketing, the upgraded device is poised to unlock cloud’s potential.

From Cloud 1.0 to 2.0

The origins of cloud can be traced to the 1960s when organizations like IBM began to offer technology-based services via mainframes, largely considered the forerunner to today’s Software as a Service. In the 80s personal computers began to emerge that combined hardware and software in an easy-to-use form factor, bringing the benefits of computing to non-technical users. From the late 90s into the new millennium, companies such as Salesforce and Amazon.com brought Internet-enabled services to the masses. And in 2009, Google broke from decades of tradition by providing an alternative to on-premise enterprise apps. This is the pinnacle of Cloud 1.0. The era is characterized by small-scale clouds and virtualization, notes Shainer.

At the transition point between Cloud 1.0 and 2.0, private clouds start replacing legacy enterprise datacenters and there are more public clouds being built for small-scale usage. The Cloud 2.0 era is marked by the movement toward truly scalable clouds, according to Shainer, and this is driving the development of overlay technologies, such as NVGRE and VXLAN.

Unlocking the Promise

The underlying technology that enables enterprise cloud computing is virtualization. It allows administrators to run multiple virtualized machines on the same physical server, and that allows the physical server to be used by multiple users, each with its own virtual machine. This sets the stage for clouds that can provide services to multiple users. The promise of cloud computing is massive scalability, the ability to build multiple datacenters all over the world, and link them together to offer services of compute and storage that end users can leverage from anywhere. The end user doesn’t care where the resources provide. But cloud sizes have been limited by the application isolation technology that is used to keep data safe: VLANs.

The problem is that historically, the interconnect infrastructure could only support 4,000 VLANs, limiting the number of tenants and applications. This also limits resource mobility, because for a user to put data in more than one location requires additional VLANs, hence applications are relegated to a single location to save on resources.

“In this situation, the full promise of the cloud is limited, and that is what we call Cloud 1.0,” says Shainer. “If I really want to achieve the full promise of cloud, that means enabling unlimited scale, so I can build any number of datacenters around the world wherever I want and have availability of resources between the datacenters. This is Cloud 2.0.”

Next >> Overlay Networks

Overlay Networks

One of the underlying technologies of Cloud 2.0 in Shainer’s view is the overlay network (aka tunneling), which has been driven by two vendors: VMware – which created VXLAN – and Microsoft – which created NVGRE. One is for the VMware environment and the other is for Windows, but they do basically the same thing. Both solutions create “floating” virtual domains on top of a datacenter interconnect, which decouples the workload’s location from its network address. The virtual connection makes disparate resources appear to be in the same network, which then allows applications to run anywhere and to receive real-time resources as needed.

But there is no free lunch; the downside of abstraction is a degradation of performance. Until now, the use of overlay networks has been limited due to the high CPU overhead imposed on cloud resources. The technique prevents many of the traditional offload capabilities (checksum, TSO) from being carried out at the NIC. The performance of the cloud suffers: latency is higher, bandwidth is reduced.

Mellanox believes it’s found the solution to this dilemma. ConnectX-3 Pro implements these overlay technologies within the interconnect hardware itself. This allows datacenter operators to decouple the overlay network layer from the physical NIC, which brings performance back to native levels. The result is that clouds can take advantage of virtually unlimited scalability and resource mobility without the CPU overhead.

Because the offload engine enables the cloud infrastructure to support more users (and more applications), it follows that the cost per application will likewise decrease and ROI will increase.

According to Shainer, there are three main elements to Cloud 2.0: overlay networks, interconnect offload engines, and Open Platforms (Open Ethernet, and software-defined networking). And yes, Mellanox is involved in all three.

The company is not ready to release hard metrics on the benefits of interconnect offloading, but says more information will be available in the coming weeks. Asked to offer his best estimate, Shainer reported that the technology is reducing overheads to virtually none.

The adapters debuted last week and are already shipping. Pricing is dynamic and quantity-dependent, but the MSRP is between $700-$1,000.

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!

New Exascale System for Earth Simulation Introduced

April 23, 2018

After four years of development, the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) will be unveiled today and released to the broader scientific community this month. The E3SM project is supported by the Department of Energy Read more…

By Staff

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

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

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

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

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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