How Intel's True Scale QDR-80 IB Scales for Less

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Intel has been rather quiet about their True Scale InfiniBand products since they acquired QLogic’s IB technology and engineering teams in January 2012. It’s looking like that is starting to change with a series of interviews at The Register and Semi-Accurate that describe how True Scale QDR-80 products measure up to next-generation FDR offerings from Mellanox. To learn more, I caught up with Intel’s Joe Jaworsky last week and got an update on where Intel is heading with fabrics on its journey to Exascale computing.

If you’ll recall, the True Scale architecture replaces traditional Verbs-based MPI libraries with the Performance Scaled Messaging (PSM) layer. Designed specifically with HPC performance in mind, this approach does not require address lookups, which gives you the goodness of lower latency. In large deployments such as those in the Tri-Labs, True Scale has delivered impressive scalability as described in Sandia’s report entitled: Unprecedented Scalability and Performance of the New NNSA tri-lab Linux Capacity Cluster 2, which is part of the SC12 Proceedings.

The performance gains that Sandia users are experiencing with their applications on the new TLCC2 Chama has resulted in many positive feedbacks from happy users…. As pointed out in the introduction, to the scales we have benchmarked on Chama, we are seeing unprecedented performance and scalability of many key Sandia applications.

So how did Intel get True Scale to scale so well? They use something called QDR-80 to double-up 40Gbps QDR ports, thus delivering 80Gbps. While this is a neat trick in itself, Intel has paired this with lower pricing than FDR alternatives. The net-net of this is that Intel is offering low latency interconnects for less money, a persuasive message indeed for supercomputer buyers who would love to take that extra cash and use it to buy more cores.

Watch this space as Intel continues to beef up its portfolio on its journey to Exascale computing. Compute is just one element of a performing, balanced architecture. As Intel brings fabrics (Cray Aries, True Scale, and Fulcurm) and storage (Lustre expertise and SSDs) to bear, the company is building a formidable platform for the future of HPC.