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Interview: EXTOLL Talks Mountain Climbing, Interconnects, and ISC’14

When it comes to interconnect technology, the HPC world requires low latency, high messaging rates, low memory footprints, and huge scalability. EXTOLL brings these characteristics to the HPC network space with products named after mountains climbed during the Tour de France. We sat down with Dr. Ulrich Krackhardt to learn more.

insideHPC: What does Extoll offer the HPC realm?

Ulrich Krackhardt

Dr. Ulrich Krackhardt: EXTOLL offers high-performance interconnect technology to the HPC-world. EXTOLL has developed a network ASIC called “TOURMALET”. TOURMALET is a single chip network solution for the HPC world, which has been completely architected and designed by EXTOLL. The result is a 270 million transistor chip running at 750MHz as a heavily optimized solution to the HPC network space with its unique low-latency, high message rate and high bandwidth architecture. As the EXTOLL network is a direct network, external switches are obsolete for EXTOLL networks, which substantially reduces TCO for our customers. On the software side we are committed to support common industry standards including, of course, MPI.

insideHPC: Who are your customers?

Dr. Ulrich Krackhardt: Our customers are mainly system builders and integrators. We are talking and working with a number of companies in this area, which will offer TOURMALET based solutions, when the chip gets generally available late this year. Additionally, some HPC customers – especially from the academic world – have unique requirements and we are always happy to directly work with them on their specific requirements and projects.

Our TOURMALET solution can either be used as a plug-in card or as a chip directly integrated on custom boards. In any case, TOURMALET offers either a x16 PCIe Gen3 or alternatively an HyperTransport host interface. EXTOLL also provides design-in service for the integration of TOURMALET onto customers’ boards.

insideHPC: Do you have any recent customer success stories that you’d like to share?

Dr. Ulrich Krackhardt: We have verified our hardware design by FPGA solutions which already have shown good performance and which have been widely tested in the field. As many of you know, EXTOLL network technology is also used within the European FP7 project DEEP, which will be present on the European Exascale booth (#833) at the ISC14 show in Leipzig.

The TOURMALET chip itself is currently in production and is expected back from the Fab on-time for ISC14. So do expect a presentation of it at our booth.

insideHPC: Your products have some rather interesting names. What’s the story behind this?

Dr. Ulrich Krackhardt: One of the original architects of EXTOLL is a big fan of cycling. The names of our products are derived from some of the most challenging and famous stages of the Tour de France. For example, the climb of Mont Ventoux is by some considered to be the hardest climb of the Tour, while the Col du Tourmalet and Col du Galibier are also often visited and well known mountain climbs of the Tour.

insideHPC: Extoll will be at ISC’14 this year in Leipzig in booth #151. What will be the exciting news from the big show?

Dr. Ulrich Krackhardt: We are happy to present the TOURMALET ASIC the very first time at a show in Europe. This will also be the first time we will show working TOURMALET plug-in boards. Additionally, expect also presentations of the rest of EXTOLLs product palette including optical and electrical cabling and solutions from project partners.

insideHPC: What’s in store beyond ISC? What does the future hold for Extoll?

Dr. Ulrich Krackhardt: In a next step early adopters will be provided with TOURMALET. System integrators can benefit from EXTOLL’s complete product palette comprising the NIC, electrical or optical interconnect cables and network management software. If all goes well, TOURMALET based solutions will become generally available to our customers starting Q3 this year and still in 2014 we will see the first systems with TOURMALET start to appear.

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