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Storage with Intense Network Growth and the Rise of RoCE

February 4th, 2015

On January 4 and 5, the Entertainment Storage Alliances held the 14th annual Storage Visions conference in Las Vegas, highlighting advances in storage technologies utilized in consumer electronics, the media and entertainment industries. The theme of Storage Visions 2015 was Storage with Intense Network Growth (SWING), which was very appropriate given the explosions going on in both data storage and networking.

SV1

While the primary focus of Storage Visions is storage technologies, this year’s theme acknowledges the corollary between storage growth and network growth. Therefore, among the many sessions offered on increased capacity and higher performance, the storage networking session was specifically designed to educate the audience on advances in network technology – “Speed is the Need: High Performance Data Center Fabrics to Speed Networking.”

More pressure is being put on the data center network from a variety sources, including continued growth in enterprise application transactions, new sources of data (aka, big data) and the growth in streaming video and emergence of 4K video. According to Cisco, global IP data center traffic will grow 23% annually to 8.7 zettabytes by 2018. Three quarters of this traffic will be inter-data center, or traffic between servers (East-West) or between servers and storage (North-South). Given this, data centers need to factor in technologies designed to optimize data center traffic.

Global Data Center IP Traffic Forecast, Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2013-2018

Global Data Center IP Traffic Forecast, Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2013-2018

Global Data Center Traffic By Destination, Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2013-2018

Global Data Center Traffic By Destination, Cisco Global Cloud Index, 2013-2018

Storage administrators have always placed emphasis on two important metrics, I/O operations per second (IOPS) and throughput, to measure the ability of the network to server storage devices. Lately, a third metric, latency, has become equally important. When balanced with the IOPS and throughput, low latency technologies can bring dramatic benefits to storage.
At this year’s Storage Visions conference, I was asked to sit on a panel discussing the benefits of Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) for storage traffic. I specifically called out the benefits of RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE). Joining me on the panel were representatives from Mellanox, speaking about InfiniBand, and Chelsio, speaking about iWARP. The storage-focused audience showed real interest in the topic and asked a number of insightful questions about RDMA benefits for their storage implementations.

RoCE in particular will bring specific benefits to data center storage environments. As the purest implementation of the InfiniBand specification in the Ethernet environment, it has the ability to provide the lowest latency for storage. In addition, it capitalizes on the converged Ethernet standards defined in the IEEE 802.1 standards for Ethernet, include Congestion Management, Enhanced Transmission Selection and Priority Flow Control, which collectively allow for lossless transmission, bandwidth allocation and quality of service. With the introduction of RoCEv2 in September 2014, the technology moves from support for a (flat) Layer 2 network to become a routable protocol supporting Layer 3 networks, allowing for use in distributed storage environments.
Ultimately, what customers need for optimal Ethernet-based storage is technology which will balance between IOPS, throughput, and latency while allowing for flexible storage placement in their network. RoCE addresses all of these needs and is becoming widely available in popular server and storage offerings.

Mike Jochimsen, co-chair of the Marketing Working Group (MWG) at IBTA

Mike Jochimsen, co-chair of the Marketing Working Group (MWG) at IBTA

Tweet: Get a recap from the IBTA's #SWING & #RoCE panel from #StorageVisions: http://blog.infinibandta.org/2015/02/03/storage-with-i…e-rise-of-roce/

The IBTA Celebrates Its 15th Anniversary

December 15th, 2014

Since 1999, the IBTA has worked to further the InfiniBand specification in order to provide the IT industry with an advanced fabric architecture that transmits large amounts of data between data centers around the globe. This year, the IBTA is celebrating 15 years of growth and success.

In its mission to unite the IT industry, the IBTA has welcomed an array of distinguished members including Cray, Microsoft, Oracle and QLogic. The IBTA now boasts over 50 member companies all dedicated to furthering the InfiniBand specification.

The continued growth of the IBTA reflects the IT industry’s dedication to the advancement of InfiniBand. Many IBTA member companies are developing products incorporating InfiniBand technology, including FDR, which has proven to be the fastest growing generation of InfiniBand technology: FDR adoption grew 76 percent year over year from 80 systems in 2013 to 141 systems in 2014. Most recently, the Top500 list announced that 225 of the world’s most powerful computers chose InfiniBand as their interconnect device in 2014.

2014 also marked the release of RoCEv2. RoCEv2 is an extension of the original RoCE specification announced in 2010 that brought benefits of Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) I/O architecture to Ethernet-based networks. The updated specification addresses the needs of today’s evolving enterprise data centers by enabling routing across Layer 3 networks. By extending RoCE to allow Layer 3 routing, the specification can provide better traffic isolation and enables hyperscale data center deployments.

Below is a timeline that further illustrates the IBTA’s advancements over the past 15 years that have helped to bring InfiniBand technology to the forefront of the interconnect industry.

ibta-15th-anniv-graph

Volume 1 – General Specification
Volume 2 – Physical Specification

Bill Lee

The IBTA Welcomes New Member Netronome

December 1st, 2014

Netronome, a developer of high-performance networking solutions for cloud, data center, carrier-grade and enterprise-class communications products, spoke with us recently about their choice to join the IBTA.

Netronome joined the IBTA in order to gain better access to and contribute to the latest RoCE and InfiniBand-related specifications. They currently see a need to implement and interoperate with RoCEv2-based RDMA solutions and hope to utilize their work related to RoCE specifications to develop certain applications in the data center.

Initially, Netronome has been involved with the IBXoE working group, but is also interested in the work of the Software Working Group and the Compliance and Interoperability Working Group as well.

For more information on Netronome and their offerings, please visit www.netronome.com.

Bill Lee

Tweet: The IBTA welcomes new member Netronome. Read more here:http://ctt.ec/d1v0A+

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IBTA 2014 Annual Members Meeting

October 15th, 2014

The IBTA recently hosted its annual general meeting for members in September. Barry Barnet and Jim Pappas, co-chairmen of the IBTA Steering Committee, presented the state of the association and the chairs of each working group presented their group activities over the past year and what’s ahead. The chairs specifically elaborated on the responsibilities of their working group and updated attendees on how their activities contribute to larger association goals. Each working group has put in a lot of effort on the development of the specification, including the recently released RoCEv2 spec. The IBTA plans to carry out these online meetings annually in order to keep members updated and involved in association activities.

For those members who missed the meeting, or want to view it again, we’ve posted the recording and the accompanying presentation in the Members Area.

Bill Lee

Tweet: Read about the IBTA's recent annual members meeting and access the presentation here: http://ctt.ec/fV8k3+

IBTA Announces New RoCE Specification

September 16th, 2014

Big news! The IBTA today announced the updated specification for Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), RoCEv2. This is a huge development and one that will expand RoCE’s adoption.

The benefits of the first RoCE spec released in 2010 were many:

  • Low latency and CPU overhead (eliminated the multiple data copies inside the server)
  • High network utilization
  • Support for message passing, sockets and storage protocols
  • Supported by all major operating systems

RoCEv2 extends the original RoCE specification by enabling routing across Layer 3 networks and as a result provides better isolation and enables hyperscale data center deployments. This addresses the needs of today’s evolving data centers which require more efficient data movement over a variety of network topologies.

With a number of vendors including Dell and Zadara Storage recently adopting RoCE, this new specification comes at the perfect time. Major cloud providers and Web 2.0 companies are also adopting RoCE in order to combat the challenges of running compute intensive applications and processing massive amounts of data in hyperscale networking environments.

Representatives from IBTA member companies including Emulex, IBM, Mellanox, Microsoft and Software Forge, Inc. participated in the development of this new standard, which will help enterprises to more widely adopt RoCE and improve infrastructure efficiency.

For more information, read the full IBTA announcement.

Bill Lee

Recent Trends toward RoCE Adoption

September 2nd, 2014

The RoCE specification was released back in April, 2010 to address the need for efficient RDMA in end to end Ethernet networks. With the increase in enterprise data traffic and the emergence of hyperscale infrastructure, the need for efficient networking continues to grow.  Here are the latest examples of RoCE in the field.

RoCE Accelerates Microsoft Windows Azure

Albert Greenberg, an architect with IBTA member Microsoft, describes in his keynote address to the Open Network Summit this year how they are using RoCE in their storage offering.  RoCE over 40GbE enabled line-rate performance with zero CPU usage.  At the same time they were able to use less CPUs than would otherwise be needed.

RoCE Used in Dell Fluid Cache for SAN pool

Dell’s Fluid Cache for SAN accelerates applications requiring high data I/O. The servers in this pool are connected to each other by RoCE NICs, making use of the technology to quickly move data between the nodes without facing bottlenecks from the slow operating system kernel.

RoCE Can Do What Ethernet Alone Cannot

IBTA member Applied Micro is continuing to roll out its X-Gene family of 64-bit processors. These processors support RoCE, giving 10GbE some of the low-latency capabilities that used to only be available to InfiniBand. The decrease in latency for Ethernet means transaction latencies also decrease, better positioning the X-Gene family to make a difference in modern workloads.

RoCE Provides Exceptional Performance for Storage Solutions

Zadara Storage announced a new high performance STaaS solution offer for private clouds that uses an Ethernet transport mechanism for exceptional performance at reduced costs. Developed as a collaboration with IBTA member Mellanox Technologies, this solution boosts application performance using the iSCSI Extensions for RDMA (iSER) over RoCE, delivering substantially improved latency and throughput and therefore delivering cost savings and converged enterprise storage for private clouds of all sizes.

RoCE Helps Data Centers Account for New Technology for the Cloud

With the huge acceleration of data centers to the cloud, low latency is becoming increasingly important to avoid bottlenecks and incorporate new technologies seamlessly. RoCE, says SYS-CON Media’s Barbara Porter, is one way to plan for the barrage of new technology that’s coming our way, and to reduce latency overall in the cloud.

Bill Lee

InfiniBand Trade Association Welcomes Luxshare as Member Company

August 26th, 2014

Please join us in giving a warm welcome to the IBTA’s newest member company, Luxshare-ICT.

As an active member, the global interconnect designer and manufacturer will work closely with the IBTA to continue to further the InfiniBand specification as it pertains to the cable and physical layer. In addition to assisting with the development of InfiniBand interconnect technologies for the industry and its customers, Luxshare will also be actively involved in the IBTA Compliance and Interoperability Working Group (CIWG), which oversees the bi-annual Plugfest event.

The IBTA Plugfest, held twice per year at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Interoperability Lab (IOL) in Durham, New Hampshire, provides an opportunity for participants to measure products for compliance with the InfiniBand™ architecture specification as well as interoperability with other InfiniBand products. Vendor devices and cables successfully passing all required compliance tests and interoperability procedures are listed on the IBTA Integrators’ List and granted the IBTA Integrators’ List Logo.

Luxshare-ICT is a global, publicly traded interconnect provider, experiencing rapid growth in global markets as it expands its products through technical enhancements. For more information about Luxshare and its offerings, please visit www.luxshare-ict.com.

Bill Lee

Broadcom Joins the InfiniBand Trade Association

August 19th, 2014

The IBTA is pleased to announce Broadcom has become an official member company.

Broadcom, which develops end-to-end solutions for data center architectures including Ethernet switch, controller and other devices, joined the IBTA to assist the industry in its adoption of Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) enabled Ethernet networks and to help the association in its ongoing development of the RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) specification.

“Broadcom believes that RDMA is one of several interesting technologies that have promise to simplify and accelerate applications using more intelligence in the network,” said Nick Ilyadis, Vice President & CTO, Infrastructure and Networking Group at Broadcom. “Enabling use of RDMA over Ethernet networks, as RoCE does, provides a more comprehensive and converged solution for Ethernet-based data center fabric topologies.

Broadcom is considering adding RDMA support into a variety of Ethernet products and anticipates that its experience with Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) standards development will help in the on-going work of generating and maintaining a well-engineered, interoperable and collaborative specification for use by all IBTA members.

Broadcom’s main interest as part of the IBTA is to contribute to the ongoing development of the RoCE specification as part of the IBoXE Working Group. Broadcom is also a member of the IBTA Technical and Marketing Working Groups.

Broadcom has found a welcoming environment within the IBTA.  “The association is made up of a very collaborative set of companies and technologists,” Nick Ilyadis said.


Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ: BRCM) is a global FORTUNE 500® company, providing semiconductor solutions for wired and wireless communications. Broadcom® system-on-a-chip solutions deliver voice, video, data and multimedia connectivity in the home, office and mobile environments.  For more information about Broadcom, please visit www.broadcom.com.


Bill Lee

ISC’14 Insights

July 10th, 2014

With ISC’14 in June recently concluded, the IBTA would like to highlight some of our members’ biggest announcements, key takeaways from the event and give an overall look at the impact of InfiniBand in the supercomputing world.

Event Overview

Overall the event was a huge success, showcasing demonstrations and facilitating many major announcements in the supercomputing industry. As always, the event attracted supercomputing leaders from around the world, who provided thought leadership and knowledge to thousands of attendees and exhibitors.

Chris Pfistner, senior director of marketing at Finisar, noted, “ISC in Leipzig is a vibrant show!  Between SC in the US and ISC focused on Europe and Asia, the global Super Computing community is well represented, and the space is on fire with several players unveiling new systems and showing great interest in Finisar’s EDR AOC demo – 100G links are becoming reality.”

The ISC YouTube channel is another great resource for checking out all that happened at ISC’14!

Major InfiniBand Announcements

During the event, the updated TOP500 list was released, showing that InfiniBand is the most used interconnect by the world’s fastest supercomputers and represents 44.4 percent of the TOP500 at 222 systems. InfiniBand also connects the top 17 most efficient systems and 50 percent of Petaflop-capable systems on the list. Fourteen Data Rate (FDR) InfiniBand, delivering 56Gb/s per link to address the bandwidth demand by high performance clustered computing, drives the systems with the highest utilization on the TOP500, achieving a record breaking 99.8 percent system efficiency.

IBTA member Finisar showcased a live demonstration of its next generation 100Gb/s Quadwire Active Optical Cable (AOC). This optical interconnect runs four parallel lanes of 25Gb/s to enable the next generation of InfiniBand EDR-based supercomputers. Leveraging Finisar’s patented fiber optic technology, the AOC will allow the transmission of high-speed data with enhanced signal integrity, higher density, lower power consumption, smaller bend radius and longer reach than traditional copper solutions.

Mellanox Technologies, also an IBTA member, unveiled the world’s first 100Gb/s EDR InfiniBand switch at ISC’14. The 100Gb/s switch expands InfiniBand’s bandwidth and provides increased switching capacity while lowering latency and power consumption. This solution, called Switch-IB, will enable application managers to use the power of data, delivering 5.4 billion packets per second, and making it an excellent solution for HPC, cloud, Web 2.0, database and storage centers.

In other news, Applied Micro teamed up with Nvidia to promote the X-Gene and Tesla duo. The Ethernet ports on the X-Gene 2 chip will be able to run RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), which brings the low latency of RDMA to the Ethernet protocol. This will make the chip not only suitable for HPC workloads that are latency sensitive, but also for database, storage, and transaction processing workloads in enterprise datacenters that also demand low latency. In tandem, Mellanox announced that their 56Gb/s InfiniBand products will now be optimized for the X-Gene platform.

To sum it all up, here are the IBTA’s key takeaways from the event:

· 100Gb/s is becoming a reality

· InfiniBand is leading the way with EDR taking center stage

· The industry is taking full advantage today of the performance and efficiency benefits of FDR and RoCE

ISC’14 was a great forum for knowledge sharing and big industry announcements. All of us at the IBTA look forward to seeing more InfiniBand news and discussions in the coming months.

bill-lee

Newest IBTA Compliance & Interoperability Testing Includes EDR 100Gb/s InfiniBand Methodology

February 25th, 2014

2014 has already proved to be a busy year for the IBTA. The organization is currently in the midst of compiling results from the recent Plugfest 24, which took place this past October at the University of New Hampshire’s Interoperability Laboratory.

IBTA SC13 Demonstration

IBTA SC13 Demonstration

While exhibiting at SC13 in November, we had the opportunity to showcase the IBTA’s newest EDR 100Gb/s compliance and interoperability testing capabilities that were implemented during October’s biannual Plugfest event. Due to the popularity of the demo at the conference, we wanted to share some details and results here on our blog.

The IBTA’s sophisticated test set-up leveraged Anritsu generators and Tektronix scopes to test EDR active cables.  The Anritsu generators were used to generate a spec compliant 25Gb/s input signal to one lane of an active optical cable along with 25Gb/s signals to the other 7 lanes which were being used as “aggressor” lanes.  Tektronix provided a scope capable of testing the 25Gb/s per lane output of the EDR active cables. The details are provided in the Anritsu Method of Implementation (MOI) which is available here:  http://infinibandta.org/content/pages.php?pg=technology_methods_of_implementation.

The significance of this testing, is that we were able to not only achieve 25Gb/s speed per lane (100Gb/s total over 4 lanes), but we were also able to analyze data at that speed. The IBTA currently has both copper and active optical cables running at 100Gb/s that are also compliant with the latest InfiniBand specifications.

3M Company, Advanced Photonics, Inc, Amphenol, FCI, Finisar, Foxconn, Fujikura Ltd., Hitachi Cable America, Lorom Industrial, Mellanox, Molex, Samtec, Sumitomo, TE Connectivity and Volex attended PlugFest 24 and tested a total of 189 cables for both compliance and interoperability.

Intel, Mellanox and NetApp also tested a total of 17 devices including InfiniBand to Ethernet Gateways, Host Channel Adapters (HCAs), Switches and SRP Targets. These end points and switches provided the foundation for running approximately 1000 interoperability tests using the Open MPI test benchmark and the interconnects provided by the cable vendors listed above.

Anritsu InfiniBand ATD EDR Test Solution

Anritsu InfiniBand ATD EDR Test Solution

Agilent, Anritsu, Tektronix and Wilder Technologies all provided the latest generation of Test equipment needed to test 100Gb/s InfiniBand EDR cables. The IBTA PlugFest provides a great opportunity for all these companies to work together to improve InfiniBand and to ensure that the products are both robust and interoperable.

IBTA’s Plugfest events take place twice per year, during which the IBTA tests compliance with the InfiniBand architecture specification and interoperability with other InfiniBand products. The IBTA Plugfest 24 Integrators’ List has been released and features vendor devices and cables that successfully passed all required Integrators’ List compliance tests and interoperability procedures during Plugfest 24.

The IBTA Integrators’ List contains a list of compliant and interoperable products and is available here: http://infinibandta.org/content/pages.php?pg=integrators_list_overview.

For more information on the upcoming IBTA Plugfest being held in April 2014 check out the Plugfest website.