Infiniband versus Ethernet myths and misconceptions


This paper is a good writeup of the 8 myth and misconcption of Infiniband. This whitepaper Eight myths about InfiniBand WP 09-10 is from Chelsio. Here is a summary with my inputs on selected myths……

Opinion 1: Infiniband is lower latency than Ethernet

Infiniband vendors usually advertised latency in a specialized micro benchmarks with two servers in a back‐to‐back configuration. In a HPC production environment, application level latency is what matters. Infiniband lack congestion management and adaptive routing will result in interconnect hot spots unlike iWARP over Ethernet achieve reliability via TCP.

Opinion 2: QDR‐IB has higher bandwidth than 10GbE

This is interesting. A QDR is InfiniBand uses 8b/10b encoding, 40 Gbps InfiniBand is effectively 32 Gbps. However due to the limitation of PCIe “Gen 2”,  you will hit a maximum of 26 Gbps. If you are using the PCIe “Gen 1”, you will hit a maximum of 13 Gbps. Do read Another article from Margalia Communication High-speed Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) Networking for HPC. Remember Chelsio Adapter comes 2 x 10GE card, you can trunk them together to come nearer to the maximum 26Gbps of Infiniband. Wait till the 40GBe comes into the market, it will be very challenging for Infinband.

Opinion 3: IB Switch scale better than 10GbE

Due to the fact that Infiniband Switch is a point-to-point switch it does not have congestion management and susceptibility to hot spots for large scale clusters unlike iWARP over Ethernet. I think we should take into account coming very low latency ASIC Switch See my blog entry Watch out Infiniband! Low Latency Ethernet Switch Chips are closing the gap and larger cut-through switches like ARISTA ultra low-latency cut-through 72-port switch with Fulcrum chipsets are in the pipeline.  Purdue University 1300-nodes cluster uses Chelsio iWARP 10GE Cards.

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