Sun's Steve Campbell Speaks On The Sun Fire Link

Eugen Leitl eugen at
Wed Nov 20 10:04:32 EST 2002

Some meat. It's a proprietary thing, of course.

Sun's Steve Campbell Speaks On The Sun Fire Link
Wednesday, Nov 20 @ 06:47 PST

By Chris O'Neal . 

At SC2002, Sun Microsystems launched a new high-performance cluster
interconnect for the Sun Fire 6800, Sun Fire 12K and Sun Fire 15K. By
connecting up to eight servers with its advanced optical communications
technology, Sun Fire Link delivers scalable cluster performance with
incredibly low latency. To learn more, Supercomputing Online interviewed
Steve Campbell, Vice President Marketing, Enterprise System Products.

SCO: At SC2002, Sun is introducing a new high-performance cluster 
interconnect, called Sun Fire Link. Please share the highlights with us.

Campbell: There are a couple of highlights. One is the actual technology 
itself and the other part is how do you apply that technology. We use an 
extension of the system.s backplane. It.s much higher high bandwidth with 
extremely low latency. Our bandwidth is 4.8 gigabytes. Probably aggregates 
and delivers about 2.4 gigabytes in a sustained mode. Obviously at times 
you will get bursts. But sustaining at 2.4 is what we have seen in many 
applications. Coupling that high speed capability enables us to link up to 
8 Sun Fire servers. These can be either: 6800s, 12Ks, 15Ks or a 
combination of these. So when you take 8 - 15Ks, you have a total of 800 
processors. This technology enables that kind of scalability on up to 
eight nodes and a peak performance approaching 2 TFLOPS. So 
delivering a substantial amount of performance with that kind of 
configuration. It is breakthrough technology and optical interconnects.

A key is to recognize the kind of applications that can utilize this. You 
have the physical hardware layers of this super cluster. And you bring in 
tools like HPC ClusterTools, which are the MPI capabilities, and now I can 
start to apply all of these to solving a single problem with the 
substantial computer power that can be applied to that. Couple that with 
storage and SANS and you have very large processing capabilities and large 
data management applications. It.s been a technology which have 
installed at a number of sites. So it.s tried and proven. People are using 
it today. That.s typical of what we do at Sun. Before we do general launch 
like this is make sure our products have Beta tests and passes all the 
various quality aspects of our products. So we have customers who are 
using this in their environments. And they are very happy with it.

It.s not just an interconnect and its not just high-performance, it is 
also has levels of redundancy. So if there are failures in the link, then 
the system can continue to operate. For example at the show, we have the 
ability to demonstrate unplugging physical links. If you unplug a physical 
link that would imply that the system is down, the connectivity is down, 
but you still have parallel links and you can still operate. So you don.t 
bring the complex down and stop. You still have application availability. 
That application availability we provide through triple redundancy levels 
at the hardware side. That is the key to this technology. It.s not only 
fast, not only an extension of the backplane, it is not only got software 
that works within it, but it also has redundancy that was built into it as 
well. That matches the whole philosophy of Sun and particularly the 
high-end, mission critical systems. It.s all about application 
availability. And when you have a large computing complex solving 
problems, you have applications that can run for many days. And we can 
actually provide the availability for that. There.s no single point of 
failure on the server, no single point of failure in the interconnects. So 
it.s high availability, high level of redundancy, high level of 
performance and breakthrough technology. It.s a .wow. product.


Beowulf mailing list, Beowulf at
To change your subscription (digest mode or unsubscribe) visit

More information about the Beowulf mailing list