[Beowulf] IB switches: managed or not?

Andrew Robbie (GMail) andrew.robbie at gmail.com
Mon Mar 5 05:06:07 PST 2007


Hi,

I am building a small (~16) node cluster with an IB interconnect. I need to
decide whether I will buy a cheaper, dumb switch and run OpenSM, or get a
more expensive switch with a built in subnet manager. The largest this
system would every grow is 32 nodes (two 24 port switches).

Various vendors (integrators, not switch OEMs) have stated to me that
managed switches are the go, and that OpenSM is (a) buggy, and (b) very time
consuming to set up. But, a managed name brand switch seems to cost a lot
more than a non-managed one using the Mellanox reference design kit
(rebadged, but I suspect made by Flextronics...).

My other query is about diagnostic software. With an ethernet switch it is
pretty easy to fire up Ethereal (sorry Wireshark, but it is such a silly
name) or Etherape and get a look at what is going on. If I buy a Cisco or
Voltaire etc do they come with tools that let me get accurate
representations of what is going on? Or are their tools really for large IB
networks?

Regards,
Andrew

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