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Infiniband Association adds control freakery to Volume 1 spec

Spec targets next gen of supers

The InifiniBand Trade Association (IBTA) hopes to ward off the risk of an Ethernet invasion in the ranks of HPC users with a renewed focus on manageability and visibility.

Such features have just appeared in release 1.3 of the Volume 1 standard. The IBTA's Bill Lee told The Register that as HPC clusters grow, “you want to be able to see every level of switch interconnect, so you can identify choke-points and work around them”.

At the same time, Lee said, the amount of control traffic overhead has to be minimised.

“Today, the building blocks in the switch fabric are most commonly single-RU 36 port switches, or chassis switches,” Lee explained.

In the current spec, chassis switches look to management systems like a single unit, when in reality there are “three hops between the line card input and output,” and it's that extra depth of management that the IBTA wants to deliver.

Another important part of manageability is the addition of interconnect information to the fabric. Rupert Dance of the Open Fabrics Alliance said “being able to query the cables – to find out whether they're passive copper or active fibre – means the switches can tune themselves based on the interconnect.”

The spec is available at the IBTA's site,here. ®

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