Intelligent Data Centres Issue 43 | Page 48

Durham and ExCALIBUR want to explore whether Rockport ’ s switchless architecture can provide speed enhancements for performance-intensive workloads when deployed at scale , as well as assessing other potential benefits relative to switch-based networks such as enabling elastic scaling and simplifying operations . Rockport ’ s fully distributed network fabric has the potential to deliver better performance , resource utilisation and network economics by using smart congestion control without the need for external switches .
The ICC ’ s massively parallel performance – and data-intensive research into dark matter and energy , black holes , planet formation and collisions – requires tremendous computational power where traditionally the interconnect can be a limiting factor , as well as memory bandwidth and latency . The Durham system is the DiRAC memory-intensive service which uses large RAM nodes to support workloads ; the challenge is ensuring that the network can keep up .
Interconnect-related performance and congestion challenges experienced when processing advanced computing workloads result in unpredictable completion times and under-utilisation of expensive compute and storage resources .
After an initial Rockport proof-ofconcept deployment in the Durham Intelligent NIC Environment ( DINE ) supercomputer , the university quickly saw Rockport ’ s technology as a potential way to address congestion .
“ Based on the results and our first experience with Rockport ’ s switchless architecture , we were confident that larger scale investigation was warranted , as part of our mission to improve our exascale modelling performance – all supported by the right economics ,” said Dr Alastair Basden , DiRAC / Durham University , Technical Manager of COSMA HPC Cluster .
COSMA7 is helping scientists analyse space ’ s biggest mysteries including dark energy , black holes and the origins of the universe . By deploying the Rockport Switchless Network in COSMA7 , ICC researchers and their collaborators around the world can gain first-hand experience of Rockport ’ s architecture and see for themselves whether it can benefit their work by reducing research delays and thus help them to create more complex simulations of the universe . Rockport ’ s monitoring tools also deliver deep insights into how codes are performing which can be used to further improve code performance .
The Rockport Switchless Network distributes the network switching function to its COSMA7 endpoint devices ( nodes ) which become the network . By eliminating layers of switches , the Rockport network ensures compute and storage resources are not left starved for data and researchers have more predictability regarding workload completion time .
Rethinking network switches creates an opportunity to leverage direct
48 www . intelligentdatacentres . com