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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-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