Existing cluster supercomputers typically use a "fat tree" network topology, in which, for example, 6,000 servers would require about 800 switches, or possibly more than 2,000 switches, with network performance that needs redundancy and other features. Networks account for up to about 20% of the power consumed by a supercomputer system, which means there are high expectations for a new network technology that can maintain good network performance with fewer switches.
Details of this technology are being presented at the Summer United Workshops on Parallel, Distributed and Cooperative Processing 2014 (SWoPP 2014), opening
Cluster supercomputers have been widely used in the fields of manufacturing, such as for the design of mobile phones, cars, and airplanes, as well as scientific technology computing. Increasingly, though, they are being used in new areas, such as in in silico drug discovery and medicine, and to analyze earthquakes and weather phenomena, and these applications require even more powerful supercomputers.
To realize increased supercomputing performance, multiple servers are connected by networks. These servers are equipped with high-performance computation units consisting of accelerators that are typically many-core processors which have multiple CPUs or GPGPUs In order for the supercomputer's computing performance to be useful to a wide range of applications, the network joining the servers needs to have higher performance. In the fat-tree network topology, tiers are set based on the extent of the servers being connected, and the redundancy of paths in the tree-like network topology that connects the switches results in fast network performance. For example, a system with 6,000 servers would require 800 switches, each with 36 ports, to connect them.
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