[Beowulf] Q: IB message rate & large core counts (per node)?

Patrick Geoffray patrick at myri.com
Tue Feb 23 17:10:29 EST 2010


Brian,

On 2/19/2010 1:25 PM, Brian Dobbins wrote:
> the IB cards.  With a 4-socket node having between 32 and 48 cores, lots
> of computing can get done fast, possibly stressing the network.
>
>    I know Qlogic has made a big deal about the InfiniPath adapter's
> extremely good message rate in the past... is this still an important
> issue?  How do the latest Mellanox adapters compare?

I have been quite vocal in the past against the merit of high packet 
rate, but I have learned to appreciate it. There is a set of 
applications that can benefit from it, especially at scale. Actually, 
packet rate is much more important outside of HPC (where application 
throughput is what money buys).

However, I would pay attention to a different problem with many-core 
machines. Each user-space process uses a dedicated set of NIC resources, 
and this can be a problem with 48 cores per node (it affects all 
vendors, even if they swear otherwise). You may want to consider 
multiple NICs, unless you know that only a subset of the cores are 
communicating through the network (hybrid MPI/Open-MP model for example) 
or that the multiplexing overhead is not a big deal for you.

>    On a similar note, does a dual-port card provide an increase in
> on-card processing, or 'just' another link?  (The increased bandwidth is
> certainly nice, even in a flat switched network, I'm sure!)

You need PCIe Gen2 x16 to saturate a 32 Gb/s QDR link. There is no such 
NIC on the market AFAIK (only Gen1 x16 or Gen2 x8). But even then, you 
won't have any PCIe bandwidth left to drive a second port on the same 
NIC. There may be other rationales for a second port, but bandwidth is 
not one of them.

Patrick
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