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InfiniBand fabric suite offers adaptive, dispersive routing

Posted: 25 May 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:InfiniBand? software? HPC cluster? routing?

QLogic Corp. has released the InfiniBand Fabric Suite (IFS) 6.0, a new version of its fabric management software package that enables users to obtain the highest fabric performance, the highest communications efficiency, and the lowest management costs for high-performance computing (HPC) clusters of any size.

The price/performance delivered by HPC clusters has enabled companies to build increasingly larger systems to handle their complex simulation requirements. But larger clusters have unique management challenges: as the cluster scales, communications among applications and nodes become more complex and the potential for inefficiency, bottlenecks, and failures grows dramatically. IFS 6.0 incorporates virtual fabrics configurations with application-specific Class-of-Service (CoS), adaptive routing and dispersive routing, performance-enhanced versions of vendor-specific message passing interface (MPI) libraries, and support for torus and mesh network topologies. The result is a comprehensive suite of advanced features that network managers can use to maximize throughput, eliminate the effects of path congestion, and automate QoS on a per-application basis, and, unlike other fabric managers on the market, IFS 6.0's unique adaptive and dispersive routing capabilities actually increase network routing intelligence as the number of nodes and switches scales.

"Effective fabric management has become the most important factor in maximizing performance in an HPC cluster investment and as clusters scale, issues like congestion mitigation and QoS can make a big difference in whether the fabric performs up to its potential," said Addison Snell, president of InterSect 360 Research. "With IFS 6.0, QLogic has addressed all of the major fabric management issues in a product that in many ways goes beyond what others are offering."

The IFS offers Virtual Fabrics combined with application-specific CoS, which automatically dedicates classes of service within the fabric to ensure the desired level of bandwidth and appropriate priority, is applied to each application. In addition, the virtual fabrics capability helps eliminate manual provisioning of application services across the fabric, significantly reducing management time and costs.

The adaptive routing continually monitors application messaging patterns and selects the optimum path for each traffic flow, eliminating slowdowns caused by pathway bottlenecks. Meanwhile,

dispersive routing load-balances traffic among multiple pathways and uses QLogic Performance Scaled Messaging to automatically ensure that packets arrive at their destination for rapid processing. Dispersive Routing leverages the entire fabric to ensure maximum communications performance for all jobs, even in the presence of other messaging-intensive applications.

In addition, the suite provides full leverage of vendor-specific MPI libraries that maximize MPI application performance. All supported MPIs can take advantage of IFS's pipelined data transfer mechanism, which was specifically designed for MPI communication semantics, as well as additional enhancements such as Dispersive Routing.

The software package also offers full support for additional HPC network topologies, including torus and mesh as well as fat tree, with enhanced capabilities for failure handling. Alternative topologies like torus and mesh help users reduce networking costs as clusters scale beyond a few hundred nodes, and IFS 6.0 ensures that these users have full access to advanced traffic management features in these complex networking environments.

This unique combination of features ensures that HPC customers will obtain maximum performance and efficiency from their cluster investments while simplifying management.

"With our long history as a key developer of connectivity solutions for large-scale Fibre Channel, Ethernet and InfiniBand networks, QLogic uniquely appreciates the importance of fabric management in HPC environments," said Jesse Parker, VP and general manager, network solutions group, QLogic. "By automating congestion management, load balancing, and class-of-service assignments, IFS 6.0 is the first product that delivers the tools network managers need to get the most out of their InfiniBand fabric and compute cluster investments."

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