Networking startup Woven Systems has been getting increasing attention over the past several months in our community. HPCwire included them in their half-year retrospective on HPC, and their adaptive routing experiment with Sandia and Chelsio has also gotten a lot of attention.
I spent some time with them yesterday getting a product overview. I intend to write a longer summary of what I learned, but for now I just want to give you the 4-1-1.
Who: Woven Systems was founded in 2003 by networking industry veterans and has run on $15M in Series A venture funding (led by Goldman Sachs and Palomar Ventures) since 2005.
What: The company produces a 144-port 10 GbE Ethernet switch which they can use to create an Ethernet fabric that scales 4,000 edge ports while staying in Layer 2. This magic that makes it all work is Woven’s custom VScale ASIC. The ASIC also handles the heavy lifting for Woven’s other big advantage: adaptive routing in the network to avoid congestion. The company’s initial target markets are HPC (cluster interconnect and clustered file systems) and Internet Data Centers (data stream aggregation).
Why (you care): 10 GbE has not used in large clusters because 10 GbE switches are expensive, and building a cluster of any size would entail adding Layer 3 switches into the mix which introduce severe latency. The adaptive routing bit also offers a lot of promise in communication-intensive application over statically-routed solutions like IB (as shown in the Sandia results (text here, informative graph here. Woven claims there solution is 1/5 the power, cost, and rack space of existing solutions.
When: Their first product, the EFX 1000 Ethernet Switch, has been in trials at 5 sites and is transitioning to general availability now. As the company gears to move from development to production they’ve swapped out CEOs.