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Intel's open-source fabric scalable to any-sized data centre

Posted: 28 Aug 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel  fabric  OPA  error-correction code  high-performance computing 

Intel has focused its internal and externally acquired expertise in networking to develop what it describes as a multi-generational interconnection fabric scalable to any-sized data centre or supercomputer array. The Omni-Path Architecture (OPA) is an open-source architecture geared specifically for both high-performance computing (HPC) and servers.

OPA not only does it enable 100Gb/s speeds for each link, but increases link-level reliability with built-in error-correction code (ECC) throughout. A high quality of service (QoS) is also built-in allowing priority packet pre-emption to deliver high-priority packets with low latency, while simultaneously ensuring bandwidth fairness for normal packets. The Host Fabric Interface (HFI) can handle 160 million messages per second with switch latency of under 110ns. Intel said all these improvements are delivered while preserving compatibility with the existing software ecosystem, plus allowing user-level innovation beneath the application programmers interface (API).

"Every single component has been designed by Intel, from switches to cables, integrating both Intel and acquired IP," said Hugo Salem, director of marketing and industry development, Intel. "We now have a flexible fabric blueprint for end-to-end connectivity, including small clusters and on-premise clouds."

Omni-Path Architecture

The architecture used by Intel's new Omni-Path Architecture (OPA) designed for scalability from commercial data centres to supercomputers. (Source: Intel)

Every switch handles 48 100Gb/s channels, which have been proven out over 100 OEM designs including over 100,000 nodes and growing, according to Salem.

The OPA architecture is designed to be "as much as 25-40 per cent less expensive than other HPC fabrics while one-upping Infiniband by also serving the data centres rather than being force-fitted to the HPC environment," said Phil Murphy, chief system architect of the Omni-Path Architecture.

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