Infiniband for the Long, Long Haul

Arthur Cole

I've blogged about long-haul Infiniband in the past, but a new series of tests by the Department of Energy has taken the concept to the extreme.


Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced recently that they have established an 8,600-mile link capable of supporting an average throughput of 7.43 Gbps. That literally blows the doors off of the top long-distance TCP/IP rate of 1.79 Gbps using the Hyper Text Caching Protocol (HTCP).


The test utilized the group's UltraScienceNet dual OC-192 Synchronous Optical Network, shuttling data from Oak Ridge in Knoxville, Tenn., to Sunnyvale, Calif., with stop-overs in Atlanta, Chicago and Seattle. Endpoints were outfitted with Longbow XR switches from Obsidian Research.


The tests showed that Infiniband worked well over long distances, although HTCP outperformed it on shorter hops of about a quarter-mile or so, hitting as high as 9.21 Gbps. HTCP also proved to be more robust in the presence of competing traffic.


A pure Infiniband wide area network would be a boon to scientific researchers, financial firms and other groups looking to shuttle large amounts of data over great distances. Currently, local Infiniband networks must convert to and from TCP/IP at the endpoints, which requires complex packet conversion and TCP/IP tuning procedures.

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