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HPC User Site Census: Interconnects/Networks

by Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D., Laura Segervall, Addison Snell, Debra Goldfarb
for Intersect360 Research (originally published under the Tabor Research name)
August 2008

This fifth report in our Site Census series provides an examination of the server interconnects and network characteristics found at a sample of HPC user sites. We surveyed a broad range of users about their current computer system installations, storage systems, networks, middleware, and software supporting these computer installations. The other reports in this series include: HPC User Site Census: Systems, HPC User Site Census: Processors, HPC User Site Census: Storage, and HPC User Site Census: Life Cycle.

Our goal in this analysis of computer system interconnects and network implementation is to examine the suppliers, type, and purpose of the network within the HPC user communities, and to explore how this usage varies between computer system interconnects, storage networks, and local area networks.

Key findings of the survey include the following:

  • Ethernet (all types) and Infiniband are the only two standards that compete across all three locales (system interconnects, storage networks, and LANs). Ethernet has the greatest representation at all three levels with about 32% of the system interconnects, 64% of the storage networks, and 87% of the local-area network.
  • Use of Ethernet and Infiniband at the other locales appears to be dependent on its heritage. That is, use of Ethernet for a system interconnect or storage network at a site is more likely if the site has an Ethernet LAN and the use of Infiniband for storage networks and LAN is more likely if it is being used as a system interconnect at that site.
  • Myricom was the supplier used most often for system interconnects with 23% of the mentions. However, Myrinet was third behind Ethernet and Infiniband in the types of interconnects implemented.
  • Most NAS storage systems (59.3%) are connected to 1 Gigabit Ethernet networks and most SAN storage systems (47.6%) are connected to Fibre Channel networks in the surveyed sites.
  • Ethernet, as expected, is the dominant LAN network implemented at these sites with 87% of all the networks being some type of Ethernet (some sites had more than one type installed). Approximately 96% of the sites had an Ethernet (all types) LAN network installed. 1 Gigabit Ethernet is still the primary type with 54% of the mentions. Cisco is the primary supplier for Ethernet implementations.

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