fast blackplanes (was Re: Experience with SMC 8624T L2 switch es and nics)

Marc Cozzi cozzi at
Wed Feb 26 09:13:43 PST 2003


For me that is the point of concern. A "fast backplane" switch such as
FastIron/BigIron or even the Cisco 6509 series would be nice but the price
for a 100 node cluster could be between 70 and 100K US dollars.

If you are only using 24 or less ports, finding a non-blocking switch that
can handle 48Gb/s is not really an expensive problem.

Trunking capabilities in the SMC switch could allow one to
in-expensively construct a cluster with many more nodes with overall
performance better than simple switches fitted with GBICs.

For a cluster much larger than say 48-64 nodes I don't think you could out
perform the "fast backplane" type switches, however, the SMC tiger seems
to fill a nitch somewhere in between the two.


-----Original Message-----
From: Dale Harris [mailto:rodmur at]
Sent: February 25, 2003 5:14 PM
To: 'beowulf at'
Subject: fast blackplanes (was Re: Experience with SMC 8624T L2 switches
and nics)

On Tue, Feb 25, 2003 at 08:42:47AM -0500, Mark Hahn elucidated:
> it is a good deal.  I know of a large cluster recently installed
> in Toronto that is very happily using these switches in an agressive
> way (somewhat exotic wiring plan, including trunking.)  I believe
> they are quite happy with performance.  we have one which I'm 
> only starting to evaluate the performance of, but so far, so good.

I guess I'm missing something here.  How would this compare to going
with a switch that has a large number of ports with a really fast
backplane?  Like say a Foundry BigIron 4000, or some such.  Is this a
just a cost vs. performance issue?  Can these switches be wired in such
a way to out perform a fast backplane?

Dale Harris   
rodmur at
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