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New InfiniBand Specification Updates Expand Interoperability, Flexibility, and Virtualization Support

November 29th, 2016

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Performance demands continue to evolve in High Performance Computing (HPC) and enterprise cloud networks, increasing the need for enhancements to InfiniBand capabilities, support features, and overall interoperability. To address this need, the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) is announcing the public availability of two new InfiniBand Architecture Specification updates - the Volume 2 Release 1.3.1 and a Virtualization Annex to Volume 1 Release 1.3.

The Volume 2 Release 1.3.1 adds flexible performance enhancements to InfiniBand-based networks. With the addition of Forward Error Correction (FEC) upgrades, IT managers can experience both minimal error rates and low latency performance. The new release also enables the InfiniBand subnet manager to optimize signal integrity while maintaining the lowest power possible from the port. Additionally, updates to QSFP28 and CXP28 memory mapping support improved InfiniBand cable management.

This new Volume 2 release also improves upon interoperability and test methodologies for the latest InfiniBand data rates, namely EDR 100 Gb/s and FDR 56 Gb/s. These enhancements are achieved through updated EDR electrical requirements, amended testing methodology for EDR Limiting Active Cables, and FDR interoperability and test specification corrections.

With an aim toward supporting the ever-increasing deployment of virtualized solutions in HPC and enterprise cloud networks, the IBTA also published a new Virtualization Annex to Volume 1 Release 1.3. The Annex extends the InfiniBand specification to address multiple virtual machines connected to a single physical port, which allows subnet managers to recognize each logical endpoint and reduces the burden on the subnet managers as networks leverage virtualization for greater system scalability.

The InfiniBand Architecture Specification Volume 2 Release 1.3.1 and Volume 1 Release 1.3 are available for public download here.

Please contact us at press@infinibandta.org with questions about InfiniBand’s latest updates.

Bill Lee

Incorporate Networking into Hyperconverged Integrated Systems to Gain a Market Advantage

August 22nd, 2016

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The concept of hyperconverged integrated systems (HCIS) emerged as data centers considered new ways to increase resource utilization by reducing infrastructure inefficiencies and complexities. HCIS is primarily a software-defined platform that integrates compute, storage, networking resources. The HCIS market is expected to grow 79 percent to reach almost $2 billion this year, driving it into mainstream use in the next five years, according to Gartner.

Since this market is growing so rapidly, Gartner released an exciting new report, “Use Networking to Differentiate Your Hyperconverged System.” In the report, Gartner advises HCIS vendors to focus on networking to gain competitive market advantage by integrating use-case-specific guidelines and case studies in go-to-market efforts.

According to the report, more than 10 percent of HCIS deployments will suffer from avoidable network-induced performance problems by 2018, up from less than one percent today. HCIS vendors can help address expected challenges and add value for buyers by considering high performance networking protocols, such as InfiniBand and RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), during the system design stage.

The growing scale of HCIS clusters creates challenges such as expanding workload coverage and diminishing competitive product differentiation. This will force HCIS vendors to alter their product lines and marketing efforts to help their offerings stand out from the rest. Integrating the right networking capabilities will become even more important as a growing number of providers look to differentiate their products. The Gartner report states that by 2018, 60 percent of providers will start to offer integration of networking services, together with compute and storage services, inside of their HCIS products.

Until recently, HCIS vendors have often treated networking simply as a “dumb” interconnect. However, when clusters grow beyond a handful of nodes and higher workloads are introduced, issues begin to arise. This Gartner report stresses that treating the network as “fat dumb pipes” will make it harder to troubleshoot application performance problems from an end-to-end perspective. The report also determines that optimizing the entire communications stack is key to driving latency down and it names InfiniBand and RoCE as important protocols to implement for input/output (I/O)-intensive workloads.

As competition in the HCIS market continues to grow, vendors must change their perception of networking and begin to focus on how to integrate it in order to keep a competitive edge. To learn more about how HCIS professionals can achieve this market advantage, download the full report from the InfiniBand Reports page.

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Bill Lee

Dive into RDMA’s Impact on NVMe Devices at the 2016 Flash Memory Summit

August 5th, 2016

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Next week, storage experts will gather at the 2016 Flash Memory Summit (FMS) in Santa Clara, CA, to discuss the current state of flash memory applications and how these technologies are enabling new designs for many products in the consumer and enterprise markets. This year’s program will include three days packed with sessions, tutorials and forums on a variety of flash storage trends, including new architectures, systems and standards.

NVMe technology, and its impact on enterprise flash applications, is among the major topics that will be discussed at the show. The growing industry demand to unlock flash storage’s full potential by leveraging high performance networking has led to the NVMe community to develop a new standard for fabrics. NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe/F) allows flash storage devices to communicate over RDMA fabrics, such as InfiniBand and RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), and thereby enabling all flash arrays to overcome existing performance bottlenecks.

Attending FMS 2016?

If you’re attending FMS 2016 and are interested in learning more about the importance of RDMA fabrics for NVMe/F solutions, I recommend the following two educational sessions:

NVMe over Fabrics Panel – Which Transport Is Best?
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 (9:45-10:50 a.m.)

Representatives from the IBTA will join a panel to discuss the value of RDMA interconnects for the NVMe/F standard. Attendees can expect to receive an overview of each RDMA fabric and the benefits they bring to specific applications and workloads. Additionally, the session will cover the promise that NVMe/F has for unleashing the potential performance of NVMe drives via mainstream high performance interconnects.

Beer, Pizza and Chat with the Experts
Tuesday, August 9, 2016 (7-8:30 p.m.)

This informal event encourages attendees to “sit and talk shop” with experts about a diverse set of storage and networking topics. As IBTA’s Marketing Work Group Co-Chair, I will be hosting a table focused on RDMA interconnects. I’d love to meet with you to answer questions about InfiniBand and RoCE and discuss the advantages they provide the flash storage industry.

Additionally, there will be various IBTA member companies exhibiting on the show floor, so stop by their booths to learn about the new InfiniBand and RoCE solutions:

·HPE (#600)

· Keysight Technologies (#810)

· Mellanox Technologies (#138)

· Tektronix (#641)

· University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (#719)

For more information on the FMS 2016 program and exhibitors, visit the event website.

Bill Lee

Life in the Fast Lane: InfiniBand Continues to Reign as HPC Interconnect of Choice

July 8th, 2016

top500

TOP500.org recently released its latest account of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and, as with previous reports, InfiniBand leads the way. The 47th edition of the bi-annual list shows that 205 of the fastest commercially available systems are accelerated by InfiniBand and OpenFabrics Software (OFS).

The InfiniBand fabric, with the OFS open source software, is the High Performance Computing (HPC) interconnect of choice because it delivers a distinctive combination of superior performance, efficiency, scalability and low latency. InfiniBand is the only open-standard I/O that provides the capability required to handle supercomputing’s high demand for CPU cycles without time wasted on I/O transactions. With today’s supercomputers pushing nearly 100 petaflops on the LINPACK benchmark, the need for efficient, low latency performance is higher than ever.

High Marks for InfiniBand and OFS

  • InfiniBand and OFS systems outperformed competing technologies in overall efficiency, scoring an 85 percent list average for compute efficiency – with one system even reaching an incredible 99.8 percent.
  • The technologies enable 70 percent of the HPC system segment. This segment includes academic, research and government fields.
  • For supercomputers capable of Petascale performance, the number of InfiniBand and OFS systems grew from 33 to 45.

InfiniBand’s ability to carry multiple traffic types over a single connection makes it ideal for clustering, communications, storage and management. As a result, the interconnect technology is used in thousands of data centers, HPC clusters, storage, and embedded application that scale from two nodes to a single cluster of tens-of-thousands of nodes. Supercomputers powered by OFS reach their highest performance capacity through the speed and efficiency delivered by Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA). In turn, OFS enables RDMA fabrics, such as InfiniBand, to run applications that require extreme speeds, Petascale-level scalability and utility-class reliability.

Check out the full list at www.top500.org.

Bill Lee

InfiniBand Experts Discuss Latest Trends and Opportunities at OFA Workshop 2016

May 24th, 2016

ofaworkshop2016

Each year, OpenFabrics Software (OFS) users and developers gather at the OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA) Workshop to discuss and tackle the most recent challenges facing the high performance storage and networking industry. OFS is an open-source software that enables maximum application efficiency and performance agnostically over RDMA fabrics, including InfiniBand and RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE). The work of the OFA supports mission critical applications in High Performance Computing (HPC) and enterprise data centers, but is also quickly becoming significant in cloud and hyper-converged markets.

In our previous blog, we showcased an IBTA sponsored session that provided an update on InfiniBand virtualization support. In addition to our virtualization update, there were a handful of other notable sessions that highlighted the latest InfiniBand developments, case studies and tutorials. Below is a collection of notable InfiniBand focused sessions that we recommend you check out:

InfiniBand as Core Network in an Exchange Application
Ralph Barth, Deutsche Börse AG; Joachim Stenzel, Deutsche Börse AG

Group Deutsche Boerse is a global financial service organization covering the entire value chain from trading, market data, clearing, settlement to custody. While reliability has been a fundamental requirement for exchanges since the introduction of electronic trading systems in the 1990s, since about 10 years also low and predictable latency of the entire system has become a major design objective. Both issues have been important architecture considerations, when Deutsche Boerse started to develop an entirely new derivatives trading system T7 for its options market in the US (ISE) in 2008. As the best fit at the time a combination of InfiniBand with IBM® WebSphere® MQ Low Latency Messaging (WLLM) as the messaging solution was determined. Since then the same system has been adopted for EUREX, one of the largest derivatives exchanges in the world, and is now also extended to cover cash markets. The session presents the design of the application and its interdependence with the combination of InfiniBand and WLLM. Also practical experiences with InfiniBand in the last couple of years will be reflected upon.

Download: Slides / Video


Experiences in Writing OFED Software for a New InfiniBand HCA
Knut Omang, Oracle

This talk presents experiences, challenges and opportunities as lead developer in initiating and developing OFED stack support (kernel and user space driver) for Oracles InfiniBand HCA integrated in the new SPARC Sonoma SoC CPU. In addition to the physical HCA function SR/IOV is supported with vHCAs visible to the interconnect as connected to virtual switches. Individual driver instances for the vHCAs maintains page tables set up for the HCAs MMU for memory accessible from the HCA. The HCA is designed to scale to a large number of QPs. For minimal overhead and maximal flexibility, administrative operations such as memory invalidations also use an asynchronous work request model similar to normal InfiniBand traffic.

Download: Slides / Video

Fabrics and Topologies for Directly Attached Parallel File Systems and Storage Networks
Susan Coulter, Los Alamos National Laboratory

InfiniBand fabrics supporting directly attached storage systems are designed to handle unique traffic patterns, and they contain different stress points than other fabrics. These SAN fabrics are often expected to be extensible in order to allow for expansion of existing file systems and addition of new file systems. The character and lifetime of these fabrics is distinct from those of internal compute fabrics, or multi-purpose fabrics. This presentation covers the approach to InfiniBand SAN design and deployment as experienced by the High Performance Computing effort at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Download: Slides / Video


InfiniBand Topologies and Routing in the Real World
Susan Coulter, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Jesse Martinez, Los Alamos National Laboratory

As with all sophisticated and multifaceted technologies - designing, deploying and maintaining high-speed networks and topologies in a production environment and/or at larger scales can be unwieldy and surprising in their behavior. This presentation illustrates that fact via a case study from an actual fabric deployed at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Download: Slides / Video


InfiniBand Routers Premier
Mark Bloch, Mellanox Technologies; Liran Liss, Mellanox Technologies

InfiniBand has gone a long way in providing efficient large-scale high performance connectivity. InfiniBand subnets have shown to scale to tens of thousands of nodes, both in raw capacity and in management. As demand for computing capacity increases, future clusters sizes might exceed the number of addressable endpoints in a single IB subnet (around 40K nodes). To accommodate such clusters, a routing layer with the same latencies and bandwidth characteristics as switches is required.

In addition, as data center deployments evolve, it becomes beneficial to consolidate resources across multiple clusters. For example, several compute clusters might require access to a common storage infrastructure. Routers can enable such connectivity while reducing management complexity and isolating intra-subnet faults. The bandwidth capacity to storage may be provisioned as needed.

This session reviews InfiniBand routing operation and how it can be used in the future. Specifically, we will cover topology considerations, subnet management issues, name resolution and addressing, and potential implications for the host software stack and applications.

Download: Slides

Bill Lee

Author: admin Categories: InfiniBand, RDMA Tags: , ,

InfiniBand-based Supercomputer to Power New Discoveries at the Library of Alexandria

May 17th, 2016
“Bibliotheca Alexandrina” by Ting Chen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Bibliotheca Alexandrina” by Ting Chen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Thriving civilizations, both past and present, tend to have one important characteristic in common – a vast, dynamic knowledge base. Whether it be the latest advancements in agriculture, civil engineering or battlefield tactics, technological innovation frequently determined the level and reach of a nation’s influence. One of the most prominent examples of knowledge driven supremacy stems from ancient Egypt’s Library of Alexandria.

Built in the third century BCE, the Library of Alexandria was considered the greatest collection of scholarly works and papers in its era. In addition to gifts from distinguished intellectuals and monarchs, the library built up its massive archive by coping documents and scrolls brought into Alexandria via merchants and traders. Its subsequent destruction a few centuries later was thought to be one of the most significant losses of cultural knowledge in world history.

In 2002, Bibliotheca Alexandrina was constructed to commemorate the library’s remarkable history and lasting notoriety. With a mission “to recapture the spirit of openness and scholarship of the original,” the modern library acts as a global center of knowledge and learning. It contains over a million books in six separate libraries and boasts four museums and 13 academic research centers. Furthermore, Bibliotheca Alexandria acts as a mirrored backup for the Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library that offers free access to millions of books, media and software around the world.

In addition to preserving existing knowledge, the library pursues new insights and understanding as well. Bibliotheca Alexandrina is currently building a new supercomputer with that exact goal in mind. Supercomputing is considered by many to be the standard-bearer of knowledge creation, with many countries committing significant resources to build the world’s most powerful systems (see our blog “Race to Exascale – Nations Vie to Build Fastest Supercomputer”). Supercomputing allows companies, researchers and institutions to process massive data sets to produce useful results in rapid time.

According to a recent announcement from Huawei, the new supercomputer will feature high-density FusionServer X6800 servers powered by high-performance InfiniBand interconnects. The system will be capable of a theoretical peak speed of 118 TFLOPS and a storage capacity of 288 TB. Its design enables an expansion of up to 4.5 PB, ensuring future storage scalability. Once completed, the supercomputer will support a variety of research fields, including bioinformatics, data mining, physics, weather forecasting, resource exploration/extraction and cloud computing.

We look forward to seeing what type of breakthroughs originate from Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s new InfiniBand-based supercomputer. It may even be a discovery that will have the same lasting effect as the original Library of Alexandria, which people will talk about thousands of years from now.

Bill Lee

OpenFabrics Software Users and Developers Receive InfiniBand Virtualization Update at the 2016 OFA Workshop

April 26th, 2016

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The InfiniBand architecture is a proven network interconnect standard that provides benefits for bandwidth, efficiency and latency, while also boasting an extensive roadmap of future performance increases. Initially adopted by the High Performance Computing industry, a growing number of enterprise data centers are demanding the performance capabilities that InfiniBand has to offer. InfiniBand data center use cases vary widely, ranging from physical network foundations transporting compute and storage traffic to enabling Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) in cloud service providers.

Today’s enterprise data center and cloud environments are also seeing an increased use of virtualized workloads. Using virtualized servers allows data center managers to create a common shared pool of resources from a single host. Virtualization support in the Channel Adapter enables different software entities to interact independently with the fabric. This effectively creates an efficient service-centric computing model capable of dynamic resource utilization and scalable performance, while reducing overhead costs.

Earlier this month at the OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA) Workshop 2016 in Monterey, CA, Liran Liss of member company Mellanox Technologies provided an update on the IBTA’s ongoing work to standardize InfiniBand virtualization support. He explained that the IBTA Management Working Group’s goals include making the InfiniBand Virtualization Annex scalable, explicit, backward compatible and, above all, simple in both implementation and management. Liss specifically covered the concepts of InfiniBand Virtualization, and its manifestation in the host software stack, subnet management and monitoring tools.

The IBTA effort to support virtualization is nearing completion as the annex enters its final review period from other working groups. If you were unable to attend the OFA Workshop 2016 and would like to learn more about InfiniBand virtualization, download the official slides or watch a video of the presentation via insideHPC.

Bill Lee

Plugfest 28 Results Highlight Expanding InfiniBand EDR 100 Gb/s & RoCE Ecosystems

March 21st, 2016

il-interopWe are excited to announce the availability of our latest InfiniBand Integrators’ List and RoCE Interoperability List. The two lists make up the backbone of our Integrators’ Program and are designed to support data center managers, CIOs and other IT decision makers with their planned InfiniBand and RoCE deployments for enterprise and high performance computing systems. To keep data up to date and as useful as possible, both documents are refreshed twice a year following our bi-annual plugfests, which are held at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL).

Having recently finalized the results from Plugfest 28, we can report a significant increase in InfiniBand EDR 100 Gb/s submissions compared to the last Integrators’ List. This trend demonstrates a continued industry demand for InfiniBand-based systems that are capable of higher bandwidth and faster performance. The updated list features a variety of InfiniBand devices, including Host Channel Adapters (HCAs), Switches, SCSI Remote Protocol (SRP) targets and cables (QDR, FDR and EDR).

Additionally, we held our second RoCE interoperability event at Plugfest 28, testing 10, 25 and 40 GbE RNICs, Switches and SFP+, SFP28, QSFP and QSFP28 cables. Although a full spec compliance program is still under development for RoCE, the existing interoperability testing offers solid insight into the ecosystem’s robustness and viability. We plan to continue our work creating a comprehensive RoCE compliance program at Plugfest 29. RoCE testing at Plugfest 29 will include testing of more than 16 different 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100 GbE RNICs and Switches along with all of the various cables to support these devices. Plugfest 29 testing of RoCE products, which use Ethernet physical and link layers, will be the most comprehensive interoperability testing ever performed.

As always, we’d like to thank the leading vendors that contributed test equipment to IBTA Plugfest 28. These invaluable members include Anritsu, Keysight Technologies, Matlab, Molex, Tektronix, Total Phase and Wilder Technologies.

The next opportunity for members to test InfiniBand and RoCE products is Plugfest 29 is scheduled for April 4-15, 2016 at UNH-IOL. Event details and registration information are available here.

Rupert Dance, IBTA CIWG

Rupert Dance, IBTA CIWG

IBTA Wants You – Guide the Future of InfiniBand, RoCE and Performance-Driven Data Centers

January 25th, 2016

For any organization, the New Year provides a great opportunity to reflect on the past and set a healthier course for the future. Companies can take a variety of internal actions to prepare for impeding market changes, but rarely do they have the power to influence the course of an entire industry on their own. For those devoted to improving clustered server and data center performance, joining an industry alliance such as the InfiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) offers a chance to contribute to the foundational work that sets the path for technological advances one, five and ten years into the future.

The IBTA is the organization that maintains and furthers the InfiniBand specification, used by Cloud service providers and high performing enterprise data centers as well as the interconnect of choice for the world’s fastest supercomputers. Additionally, the IBTA defines the specification for RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), which leverages the advantages of RDMA technology for Ethernet-based environments.

Leading enterprise IT vendors and HPC research facilities make up the coalition of more than 50 members that all have a shared interest in the advancement of InfiniBand and/or RoCE technology. Each member company contributes specialized expertise to IBTA’s various technical working groups, which shape and guide the progression of InfiniBand and RoCE capabilities.

Joining the IBTA comes with a variety of membership benefits, including:

Access to:

  • The InfiniBand and RoCE architecture specifications as they are being developed
  • Meeting minutes and notices of proposed and actual changes to IBTA-controlled documents
  • IBTA-sponsored Compliance and Interoperability Plugfests and workshops

Participation in:

  • The maintenance of the InfiniBand Roadmap, which defines future speeds and lane widths for InfiniBand-based technologies
  • IBTA sponsored activities at tradeshows including the annual Supercomputing Conference in November
  • IBTA speaking and demo opportunities

Opportunity to:

  • Influence and contribute to the ongoing development and maintenance of the InfiniBand and RoCE architecture specifications
  • Add approved products to the IBTA Integrators’ List, which provides a centralized listing of products that have passed a suite of compliance and interoperability testing
  • Post InfiniBand and RoCE related whitepapers, webinars, podcasts and press releases on the IBTA and RoCE Initiative web sites
  • Submit and obtain access to information regarding licensing policies posted by member patent holders on specific InfiniBand and RoCE architecture specifications
  • Network with the world’s foremost developers of InfiniBand and RoCE hardware and software

Make 2016 the year your company defines the future of the HPC industry! Visit our Membership page to learn how to join or contact membership@infinibandta.org for more information.

Bill Lee

InfiniBand Roadmap – Charting Speeds for Future Needs

December 14th, 2015

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Defining the InfiniBand ecosystem to accommodate future performance increases is similar to city planners preparing for urban growth. Both require a collaborative effort between experts and the community for whom they serve.

The High Performance Computing (HPC) community continues to call for faster interconnects to transfer massive amounts of data between its servers and clusters. Today, the industry’s fastest supercomputers are processing data in petaflops and experts expect that they will reach Exascale computing by 2025.

IBTA’s working groups are always looking ahead to meet the HPC community’s future performance demands. We are constantly updating the InfiniBand Roadmap, a visual representation of InfiniBand speed increases, to keep our work in line with expected industry trends and systems-level performance gains.

The roadmap itself is dotted by data rates, which are defined by transfer speeds and release dates. Each data rate has a designated moniker and is measured in three ways; 1x, 4x and 12x. The number refers to the amount of lanes per port with each additional lane allowing for greater bandwidth.

Current defined InfiniBand Data Rates include the following:

Data Rate: 4x Link Bandwidth 12x Link Bandwidth
SDR 8 Gb/s 24 Gb/s
DDR 16 Gb/s 48 Gb/s
QDR 32 Gb/s 96 Gb/s
FDR 56 Gb/s 168 Gb/s
EDR 100 Gb/s 300 Gb/s
HDR 200 Gb/s 600 Gb/s

The evolution of InfiniBand can be easily tracked by its data rates as demonstrated in the table above. A typical server or storage interconnect uses 4x links or 4 lanes per port. However, clusters and supercomputers can leverage 12x link bandwidth interconnects for even greater performance. Looking ahead, we expect to see a number of technical advances as the race to Exascale heats up.

As the roadmap demonstrates, planning for future data rates starts years in advance of their expected availability. In the latest edition, you will find two data rates scheduled beyond HDR - NDR and the newly christened XDR. Stayed tuned as the IBTA specifies NDR and XDR’s release dates and bandwidths.

Bill Lee