Woven Systems is claiming that its 10 GbE fabric technology can deliver speeds equivalent to Double Data Rate (DDR) Infiniband, making it a low-cost option for high-performance computing (HPC) applications.
The company says that recent testing of the EFX 1000 Ethernet Fabric Switch at AMD's Development Center Lab in Sunnyvale, Calif., using High Performance LinPack (HPL) benchmarks showed nearly identical results to Infiniband in both Gigaflop performance and scalability. Both systems achieved efficiency ratings above 80 percent, the minimum for supporting large-scale systems used in HPC clusters.
Woven says that a crucial factor in the EFX system's performance is the Active Congestion Management function that provides automatic load balancing in multi-path Ethernet mesh fabrics in real time. This avoids having to use static paths that are more prone to congestion, allowing the system to adapt to the more unpredictable computer patterns found in many HPC applications.
Using Ethernet as an HPC interconnect offers up a number of cost-saving possibilities. The high price of Infiniband has always been justified by the fact that it was the only true high-speed interconnect in town. Equivalent performance on an Ethernet platform not only lowers the cost of the switch itself, but ushers in the possibility of converging HPC networks with datacenter storage and system backbones.
Of course, potential customers will want to see some real-world results before making such a drastic change to the HPC networks. But the fact that someone is willing to put their technology to the test is a good sign that change is coming.