Mellanox Advances ‘In-Network Computing’ with ConnectX-5 Adapter

By Tiffany Trader

June 16, 2016

Networking specialist Mellanox has announced ConnectX-5, the next-generation of its 100G InfiniBand and Ethernet adapter line. The company says the new device will help organizations take advantage of real-time data processing for high performance computing (HPC), data analytics, machine learning, national security and ‘Internet of Things’ applications.

ConnectX-5 was designed to connect with any computing infrastructure – x86, Power, GPU, ARM, and FPGA – and it employs a variety of offload engines, which can be classified into two camps. The more established offloading capability supports network functions, such as RDMA, transport offload, and SR-IOV. There’s also a new generation of acceleration engines which are running data algorithms, essentially making the ConnectX-5 a coprocessor.

Significant for HPC, ConnectX-5 continues the approach begun with Switch-IB2 and moves more MPI capabilities into the network. While Switch-IB2 offloads MPI collectives for running on the switch architecture, ConnectX-5 enables MPI Tag Matching and MPI AlltoAll operations, as well as advanced dynamic routing.

With ConnectX-5 and Switch-IB2, 60 percent of the MPI algorithms are now being executed on the network, said Mellanox’s Gilad Shainer. “Looking ahead, we’re probably going to see the entire MPI moved to the network as part of the co-design approach,” he added.

ConnectX-5 also exposes what Mellanox is referring to as in-network memory. With a small memory address space accessible by the application, data can be stored or made accessible on the network devices with the goal of enabling faster reach from different endpoints.

Mellanox positions the offloading approach as part of the larger transition to co-design principles that mine synergies between software and hardware or between the different hardware components. “The way to solve the performance bottlenecks that are now emerging is by running different algorithms in different places,” said Shainer. “ConnectX-5 is the first adapter that brings the co-design architecture into the NIC side.”

“Ten years ago process runtime or MPI collective approaches were running at hundreds of microsecond latencies,” he went on to explain. “Network device latencies were in the range of tens of microseconds, so it was a big part of the overall latency. Fast forward to today and process latencies are in the range of tens of microseconds and network device latency is running about 100 nanoseconds. The question we’re addressing is how do you make another performance improvement in the process latency – move from 10 microseconds to a low single digit of a microseconds – when CPU frequency doesn’t go faster.”

“Computing within network devices makes sense when multiple nodes need to act on the same data,” observed Addison Snell, CEO of analyst firm Intersect360 Research. “In essence, it’s the complement to pushing a computation all the way to a GPU with something like RDMA and you don’t have to move the data off of the GPU in order to compute on it. If something’s extremely local, it can be – on the one side – all the way down at the processing element on the node, but at the other end of the spectrum where it’s something that’s shared between nodes, it can be more effective to do it in the network as opposed to in the microprocessor.”

The offloading approach that Mellanox is championing and delivering on is in direct contrast to the CPU-centric approach, espoused by Intel. Mellanox believes offloading is essential to increasing CPU performance, while Intel is essentially following a system-on-a-chip strategy that as part of its Scalable System Framework offers the simplicity of tight-knit hardware-software stack. Today’s system architecture is still very CPU-centric, but Mellanox and others are advancing a different architectural approach based on specialized best-of-breed components.

Intel’s position is that everything will work better together if it’s integrated onto a single chip, observed Snell. “Now Mellanox is countering by giving powerful counter examples of how things can be engineered for higher performance when they’re not integrated onto the chip, things like in-network computing or their MCM features; those argue against having things all integrated onto a chip — which the market will prefer is certainly yet to be determined.”

“Omni-Path is certainly a formidable announcement that Mellanox has to compete against,” he continued, “but Mellanox has interesting differentiation. I don’t think they’re going just to get mowed over by Intel; I think this will come down to user preference and how they like to see their system architected.”

A 100 Gigabit-per-second NIC, ConnectX-5 enables a reported 600 nanoseconds end-to-end latency within the datacenter (the latency of ConnectX-5 in the range of 100 nanoseconds). From the previous generation, ConnectX-5 takes message rate performance from 150 million messages per second to 200 messages per second, a 30 percent increase. In terms of how this stacks up with the competition, Shainer claimed a 2x performance advantage over the first-generation Omni-Path Architecture (OPA) adapters, which he notes are capable of 89 messages per second, based on a benchmark released by Intel earlier this year. Intel product literature puts architecture maximums for the OPA adapter technology at 160 million messages per second.

ConnectX-5 also has some other new features, including support for PCIe 4.0 (expected next year). There’s an integrated PCIe switch to connect multiple PCIe devices or SSDs to the network adapter. Notably, there are also capabilities for enabling different topologies for datacenters. As one example of this flexibility, an organization can chain or collectively ring multiple adapters together without using a switch to create a small cluster.

Beyond HPC, there are more acceleration engines available for cloud infrastructures. ConnectX-5 includes an embedded switch so when you run multiple virtual machines or guest OS’s, instead of virtual machines needing to go to the switch for doing routing of data between the machines, that routing of data will be done within the NIC. It also brings offloads for NVMe to support NVMe over fabrics, RDMA, and other capabilities, according to Mellanox.

“This is the next logical step in Mellanox’s roadmap,” said Snell of the new Mellanox adapter. “They’re moving everything to consistent 100 Gigabit capability whether you’re on InfiniBand or Ethernet across these different networking cards, components and switches. Everything has to be able to connect at that high-bandwidth speed or else the data doesn’t move across the system well enough. And if the data doesn’t move across the system fast enough, then it doesn’t matter how fast your processor is, it just sits there starved waiting for data.”

Mellanox says it will start shipping ConnectX-5 in Q3 of this year.

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!

First All-Petaflops Top500 List Debuts; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafloppers only. The entry point for the new list is 1.022 petaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its intention to make Arm a full citizen in the processing arch Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Final Countdown to ISC19: What to See

June 13, 2019

If you're attending the International Supercomputing Conference, taking place in Frankfurt next week (June 16-20), you're either packing, in transit, or are already ensconced at the venue. In any case, you're busy, so he Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

For decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Transforming Dark Data for Insights and Discoveries in Healthcare

Healthcare in the USA produces an enormous amount of patient-related data each year. It is likely that the average person will generate over one million gigabytes of health-related data across his or her lifetime, equivalent to 300 million books. Read more…

The US Global Weather Forecast System Just Got a Major Upgrade

June 13, 2019

The United States’ Global Forecast System (GFS) has received a major upgrade to its modeling capabilities. The new dynamical core that has been added to the GFS – its first new dynamical core in nearly 40 years – w Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

First All-Petaflops Top500 List Debuts; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Final Countdown to ISC19: What to See

June 13, 2019

If you're attending the International Supercomputing Conference, taking place in Frankfurt next week (June 16-20), you're either packing, in transit, or are alr Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The US Global Weather Forecast System Just Got a Major Upgrade

June 13, 2019

The United States’ Global Forecast System (GFS) has received a major upgrade to its modeling capabilities. The new dynamical core that has been added to the G Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

The Spaceborne Computer Returns to Earth, and HPE Eyes an AI-Protected Spaceborne 2

June 10, 2019

After 615 days on the International Space Station (ISS), HPE’s Spaceborne Computer has returned to Earth. The computer touched down onboard the same SpaceX Dr Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Building the Team: South African Style

June 9, 2019

We’re only eight days away from the start of the ISC 2019 Student Cluster Competition. Fourteen student teams from eleven countries will travel to Frankfurt, Read more…

By Dan Olds

Scientists Solve Cosmic Mystery Through Black Hole Simulations

June 6, 2019

An international team of researchers has finally solved a long-standing cosmic mystery – and to do it, they needed to produce the most detailed black hole simulation ever created. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE to Acquire Cray for $1.3B

May 17, 2019

Venerable supercomputer pioneer Cray Inc. will be acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise for $1.3 billion under a definitive agreement announced this morning. T Read more…

By Doug Black & Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This