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400 GbE and HPC

John D’Ambrosia

John D’Ambrosia

Over at Scientific Computing, John D’Ambrosia from the the Ethernet Alliance writes that a recent industry study of bandwidth requirements reflects the need to support terabit-per-second capacities in networks by 2015 and 10-terabit-per-second capacities by 2020. Recognizing this industry need, the IEEE 802.3 formed the IEEE 802.3 400 GbE Study Group in May 2013. The group defined the project, which will focus on solutions for network aggregation applications, such as cloud-scale data centers, Internet exchanges, co-location services, wireless infrastructure, service provider and operator networks, and video distribution infrastructure.

The need for 400 GbE goes beyond its actual use in the development of systems for the TOP500. As noted by the TOP500 itself, as justification for the list, “These people wish to know not only the number of systems installed, but also the location of the various supercomputers within the high performance computing community and the applications for which a computer system is being used. Such statistics can facilitate the establishment of collaborations, the exchange of data and software, and provide a better understanding of the high performance computer market.”

D’Ambrosia contends that while it will take some time before 400 GbE finds its way into the Top500 as a system interconnect, 400 GbE will definitely play a vital role in the core networking of future HPC systems.

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