Rockport Networks Announces Availability of New Switchless Network and Collaboration with TACC

October 26, 2021

OTTAWA, Ontario, Oct. 26, 2021 — Rockport Networks today announces the commercial availability of its new switchless network architecture that delivers industry-leading performance and scalability necessary for performance-intensive computing workloads including HPC, AI and ML. Addressing the longstanding data center chokepoints that are throttling innovation, the Rockport Switchless Network offers a completely new design, using breakthrough software and data-routing techniques to overcome congestion, delivering predictable performance improvements of more than 3X that of centralized switch-intensive networks.

The Rockport Switchless Network distributes the network switching function to endpoint devices, where these devices (nodes) become the network. By eliminating layers of switches, the Rockport Switchless Network also significantly frees up rack space to be better used by compute and storage, as well as creating savings in associated power, cooling, and administrative overhead. No longer are compute and storage resources starving for data, and researchers have more predictability regarding workload completion time.

“Rockport was founded based on the fact that switching, and networking in general, is extremely complicated. Over the years, this complexity has forced organizations to make tradeoffs when it comes to performance at scale, so we decided to make it simpler,” said Doug Carwardine, CEO and co-founder, Rockport Networks. “We made it our mission to get data from a source to a destination faster than other technologies. Removing the switch was crucial to achieve significant performance advantages in an environmentally and commercially sustainable way.”

Rethinking network switches creates an opportunity to leverage direct interconnect topologies that provide a connectivity mesh in which every network endpoint can efficiently forward traffic to every other endpoint. The Rockport Switchless Network is a distributed, highly reliable, high-performance interconnect providing pre-wired supercomputer topologies through a standard plug-and-play Ethernet interface.

The Rockport Network Operating System (rNOS) is software at the core of the Rockport Switchless Network and runs on the Network Card, fully offloaded from the compute cores and server operating system. The rNOS enables the network to self-discover, self-configure and self-heal. Like a navigation app for data, this patented approach selects and continually optimizes the best path through the network to minimize congestion and latency, while breaking down packets into smaller pieces (FLITs) to ensure high-priority messages are not blocked by large messages or bulk data transfers. Designed to integrate easily into existing and emerging data centers, the Rockport Switchless Network installs in a fraction of the time required to cable traditional switch-based networks. As an embeddable architecture, it will work in any form factor. Today the software is deployed and managed using three main components:

  • The Rockport NC1225: The NC1225 is the industry’s first true Network Card, replacing standard network interface cards (NIC) within servers and storage enclosures, along with the layers of switches that form traditional network fabrics. It adaptively aggregates the bandwidth of multiple parallel network paths, drawing from 300 Gbps of available network capacity.
  • The Rockport SHFL: The SHFL eliminates months of wiring with a single optical device, this new passive cabling invention provides a simple way for end users to implement sophisticated supercomputing network architectures in a fraction of the time of switched networks. The Rockport SHFL is available in multiple versions to help simply scale out networks.
  • The Rockport Autonomous Network Manager (ANM): The ANM offers a holistic view and deep insight of the active network. It continuously monitors all aspects of the network and stores historical data for 60 days with the most recent seven days collected at high fidelity within the timeline.

Rockport’s technology delivers significant TCO, sustainability and security benefits including:

  • Eliminates the need for redundant devices for reliability
  • De-materializes and de-carbonizes the data center, reducing carbon footprint
  • Requires between 34% and 69% less energy consumption when compared to switch-based technologies
  • Eliminates up to 72% of cabling requirements
  • Reduces rack space and weight in the network by as much as 77%
  • Protects against security breaches as a result of continual re-optimization of data paths

“When the root of the problem is the architecture, building a better switch just didn’t make sense,” said Matt Williams, CTO, Rockport Networks. “With sophisticated algorithms and other purpose-built software breakthroughs, we have solved for congestion, so our customers no longer need to just throw bandwidth at their networking issues. We’ve focused on real-world performance requirements to set a new standard for what the market should expect for the fabrics of the future.”

After an extensive beta program for cloud service providers and elite government and academic research labs, the Rockport Switchless Network is being deployed by customers including the University of Texas’ Advanced Computing Center (TACC). The company is also working with industry organizations including Ohio State University (OSU) to contribute to performance-intensive networking standards.

TACC Establishes New Center of Excellence with Rockport Networks

As part of today’s news, Rockport Networks is announcing a collaboration with TACC to create a Center of Excellence in Austin, Texas. TACC houses Frontera, the fastest supercomputer on a university campus and the 10th most powerful supercomputer in the world. TACC has installed 396 nodes on Frontera running production workloads on Rockport’s switchless network including quantum computing, pandemic-related life sciences research as well as workloads focused on rapid responses to emergencies like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and other large-scale disasters.

“TACC is very pleased to be a Rockport Center of Excellence. We run diverse advanced computing workloads which rely on high-bandwidth, low-latency communication to sustain performance at scale. We’re excited to work with innovative new technology like Rockport’s switchless network design,” stated Dr. Dan Stanzione, director of TACC and associate vice president for research at UT-Austin. “Our team is seeing promising initial results in terms of congestion and latency control. We’ve been impressed by the simplicity of installation and management. We look forward to continuing to test on new and larger workloads and expanding the Rockport Switchless Network further into our data center.”

Industry Validation

“The team at Durham continues to push the bounds when it comes to uncovering next-generation HPC network technologies,” said Alastair Basden, DiRAC/Durham University, technical manager of COSMA HPC Cluster. “Based on a 6D torus, we found the Rockport Switchless Network to be remarkably easy to setup and install. We looked at codes that rely on point-to-point communications between all nodes with varying packet sizes where – typically – congestion can reduce performance on traditional networks. We were able to achieve consistent low latency under load and look forward to seeing the impact this will have on even larger-scale cosmology simulations.”

“There’s been significant evidence that would suggest that switchless architectures have the capacity to significantly up level application performance that traditionally has come at great cost,” stated Earl C. Joseph, CEO, Hyperion Research. “Making these advances more economically accessible should greatly benefit the global research community and hopefully improve expectations relative to what we can expect from the network when it comes to return-on-research and time-to-results.”

“Our mission is to provide the advanced computing community with standard libraries such as MVAPICH2 that support the very best possible performance available in the market. We make it a top priority to keep our libraries fresh with innovative approaches, like Rockport Networks’ new switchless architecture,” said DK Panda, professor and distinguished scholar of computer science at the Ohio State University, and lead for the Network-Based Computing Research Group. We look forward to our ongoing partnership with Rockport to define new standards for our upcoming releases.”

Availability and Additional Information

The Rockport Switchless Network is available immediately.

For additional information including full product details, please visit: https://rockportnetworks.com.

Rockport Networks Launch Activities

Following the launch of the Rockport Switchless Network, the company will participate in a number of industry events including:

Virtual Roundtable with HPCwire – November 10: Rockport joins Dell, TACC, OSU and Hyperion Research for a virtual discussion: “Quieting Noisy Neighbors: Keys to Addressing Congestion in Multi-workload Environments”. Register here.

Rockport Networks at SC21 – November 14-19: Rockport is a sponsor of the SC21 Virtual Exhibit. Rockport experts will be available to answer questions in the virtual exhibit hall and Rockport CTO Matthew Williams will present: “Advanced congestion control for addressing network performance bottlenecks using a next generation interconnect”, with a live Q&A. Learn more at www.rockportnetworks.com/sc21.

About Rockport Networks

Rockport Networks’ next-generation of high-performance networks unlocks the entire data center to produce more results, faster, and with better economics and environmental sustainability. Modeled after the world’s fastest supercomputers, the Rockport Switchless Network replaces centralized switch architectures with a distributed, high-performance direct interconnect that is self-discovering, self-configuring and self-healing, and that is simple and transparent to operate. By virtually eliminating congestion and latency, data center workloads can be completed significantly faster, enabling organizations to improve ROI and make critical decisions more quickly. Learn more at www.rockportnetworks.com.


Source: Rockport Networks

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