ENP Newswire -
Release date- 16072014 -
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.
Thanks to the redundancy of routes in the fat-tree topology, when running a fast Fourier transform, for example, as part of an analysis on a cluster supercomputer, all-to-all communications among the servers shows good network performance.
Meanwhile, many-core processors in individual servers or accelerators such as GPGPUs produce dramatic jumps in performance. Network performance needs to be improved so that it stays balanced with computational performance, and this requires many more switches, but increasing the number of switches entails the problem of higher costs for materials, electric power, and installed space.
About the Technology
Key features of the technology are as follows.
1. Multi-layer full-mesh network topology
2. Data-exchange process avoids path contention
In all-to-all communications, where each server is exchanging data with every other server, reducing the number of switches also reduces the number of paths between servers, which is likely to result in collisions.
This technology makes it possible to maintain the performance of large-scale cluster supercomputers that are needed for such applications as drug discovery and medicine, and to analyze earthquakes and weather phenomena, while lowering facility costs and power costs. This thereby enables the provision of supercomputers that achieve high performance while conserving energy.
A supercomputer made up of numerous PC servers connected by a high-speed network.
Fat tree topology
A network topology that follows a basic tree-like structure, with multiplexed higher layers. A key benefit of this topology is that it avoids network congestion.
A 'general-purpose graphic processing unit' is a specialized processor for not only image processing, but has other uses as well as it has the ability to perform certain kinds of calculations very quickly. This has made them increasingly popular in supercomputers recently.
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