Ahead of SC17, Mellanox Launches Scalable 200G Switch Platforms

By Doug Black

November 9, 2017

In the run-up to the annual supercomputing conference SC17 next week in Denver, Mellanox made a series of announcements today, including a scalable switch platform based on its HDR 200G InfiniBand technology and the first deployment of a 100Gb/s Linux kernel-based Ethernet switch.

The company touts its HDR (High Data Rate) 200G InfiniBand Quantum, which offers up to 800 ports of 200Gb/s or 1,600 ports 100Gb/s in one chassis, as the most scalable switch platform available.

The platform family includes:

  • Quantum QM8700: 40-port 200Gb/s or 80-port 100Gb/s
  • Quantum CS8510: modular 200-port 200Gb/s or 400-port 100Gb/s
  • Quantum CS8500: modular 800-port 200Gb/s or 1,600-port 100Gb/s

Mellanox said the Quantum product line’s switch density will enable space and power consumption optimization, reducing network equipment cost by 4X, electricity costs by 2X and improving data transfer time by 2X.

Departmental-scale implementations of the Quantum QM8700 switch connects 80 servers, which the company said is 1.7 times higher than competitive products. For enterprise-scale, a 2-layer Quantum switch topology connects 3,200 servers, 2.8X higher. For hyperscale, a 3-layer Quantum switch topology connects 128,000 servers, or 4.6 times higher than competitive products.

“The HDR 200G Quantum switch platforms will enable the highest scalability, all the while dramatically reducing the data center capital and operational expenses,” said Gilad Shainer, vice president of marketing at Mellanox. “Quantum will enable the next generation of high-performance computing, deep learning, big data, cloud and storage platforms to deliver the highest performance and setting a clear path to exascale computing.”

“Mellanox Quantum more than doubles the number of compute nodes per InfiniBand leaf switch, which supports the industry-leading physical density of the Penguin Tundra ES platform,” said Jussi Kukkonen, vice president, Advanced Solutions, Penguin Computing, Inc. “In early 2018, Penguin will bring to market the first systems featuring a true PCI-Express generation 4 I/O subsystem, unlocking the full 200Gbps performance potential of the Mellanox Quantum and InfiniBand HDR.”

Mellanox also announced that Atos, a European services provider focused on digital transformation, big data, cybersecurity and HPC, will  incorporate the HDR (200G) and HDR100 (100G) InfiniBand solutions, on Atos’s BullSequana X1000 open server supercomputer platform.

Mellanox said the new Quantum switches will start shipping in the first half of 2018 and they will be demonstrated at SC17.

Mellanox also announced the first major production deployment of a 100Gb/s Ethernet Spectrum switch based on the Linux Switchdev driver to support the content distribution network service of NGENIX, a subsidiary of Rostelecom, a leading Russian telecom provider. Mellanox said this is the first major deployment of an open Ethernet switch based on the Switchdev (a common API for swapping Ethernet switches in and out of networks) driver that has been accepted and is available as open source as part of the Linux kernel.

The Switchdev driver runs as part of the standard kernel, and thus enables downstream Linux OS distributions and off-the-shelf Linux-based applications to operate the switch, the company said. The driver abstracts proprietary ASIC application programming interfaces (APIs) with standard Linux APIs for the switch data plane configuration. The key advantage of Switchdev for network administrators and software developers is an open source driver that doesn’t rely on any vendor-specific binary packages, with a well-known, well-documented and open data plane abstraction that is native to Linux.

Mellanox said the combination of Spectrum switch systems running an open, standard Linux distribution provides NGENIX with unified Linux interfaces across datacenter entities, servers and switches, with no compromise on performance.

“We were looking for a truly open solution to power our next generation 100Gb Ethernet network,” said Dmitry Krikov, CTO at NGENIX. “The choice was clear. Not only was the Mellanox Spectrum-based switch the only truly open, Linux kernel-based solution, but also allows us to use a single infrastructure to manage, authorize and monitor our entire network. In addition, it’s proving to be very cost-effective in terms of price-performance.”

Mellanox said there is strong market demand among web companies and network operators for a common API to swap Ethernet switches in and out of networks as easily as a new server. “As a pioneer in network disaggregation, Mellanox Technologies has been a major contributor to enabling the infrastructure of the open source Switchdev model,” the company said in a prepared statement.

Mellanox said the Linux kernel Switchdev driver is available for all Mellanox Spectrum SN2000 switch systems, as well as Mellanox Spectrum switch ASIC. The SN2000 portfolio is available in a variety of port and speed configurations (10/25/40/50/100GbE), including the SN2100, a high-density, half-width 16-port non-blocking 100GbE switch. The driver will also be available for Spectrum-2, the next generation 6.4Tb/s switch ASIC and the SN3000 switch systems using it. Both are expected to be available in 2018, the company said.

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