[Beowulf] MPI2007 out - strange pop2 results?

Gilad Shainer Shainer at mellanox.com
Fri Jul 20 10:43:10 PDT 2007

Dear Kevin,

You continue to set world records in providing misleading information.
You had previously compared Mellanox based products on dual single-core
machines to the "InfiniPath" adapter on dual dual-core machines and
claim that with InfiniPath there are more Gflops.... This latest release
follow the same lines...

Unlike QLogic InfiniPath adapters, Mellanox provide different InfiniBand
HCA silicon and adapters. There are 4 different silicon chips, each with
different size, different power, different price and different
performance. There is the PCI-X device (InfiniHost), the single-port
device that was deigned for best price/performance (InfiniHost III Lx),
the dual-port device that was designed for best performance (InfiniHost
III Ex) and the new ConnectX device that was designed to extend the
performance capabilities of the dual port device. Each device provide
different price and performance points (did I said different?).

The SPEC results that you are using for Mellanox, are of the single port
device. And even that device (that its list price is probably half of
your InfiniPath) had better results with  8 server nodes than yours....
Your comparison of InfiniPath to the Mellanox single-port device should
have been on price/performance and not on performance. Now, if you want
to really compare performance to performance, why don't you use the dual
port device, or even better, ConnectX? Well... I will do it for you.
Every time I had compared my performance adapters to yours, your
adapters did not even come close...


-----Original Message-----
From: beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org [mailto:beowulf-bounces at beowulf.org]
On Behalf Of Kevin Ball
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 11:52 AM
To: Brian Dobbins
Cc: beowulf at beowulf.org
Subject: Re: [Beowulf] MPI2007 out - strange pop2 results?

Hi Brian,

   The benchmark 121.pop2 is based on a code that was already important
to QLogic customers before the SPEC MPI2007 suite was released (POP,
Parallel Ocean Program), and we have done a fair amount of analysis
trying to understand its performance characteristics.  There are three
things that stand out in performance analysis on pop2.

  The first point is that it is a very demanding code on the compiler. 
There has been a fair amount of work on pop2 by the PathScale compiler
team, and the fact that the Cambridge submission used the PathScale
compiler while the HP submission used the Intel compiler accounts for
some (the serial portion) of the advantage at small core counts, though
scalability should not be affected by this.

  The second point is that pop2 is fairly demanding of IO.  Another
example to look at for this is in comparing the AMD Emerald Cluster
results to the Cambridge results;  the Emerald cluster is using NFS over
GigE from a single server/disk, while Cambridge has a much more
optimized IO subsystem.  While on some results Emerald scales better,
for pop2 it scales only from 3.71 to 15.0 (4.04X) while Cambridge scales
from 4.29 to 21.0 (4.90X).  The HP system appears to be using NFS over
DDR IB from a single server with a RAID;  thus it should fall somewhere
between Emerald and Cambridge in this regard.

  The first two points account for some of the difference, but by no
means all.  The final one is probably the most crucial.  The code pop2
uses a communication pattern consisting of many small/medium sized
(between 512 bytes and 4k) point to point messages punctuated by
periodic tiny (8b) allreduces.  The QLogic InfiniPath architecture
performs far better in this regime than the Mellanox InfiniHost

  This is consistent with what we have seen in other application
benchmarking;  even SDR Infiniband based off of the QLogic InfiniPath
architecture performs in general as well as DDR Infiniband based on the
Mellanox InfiniHost architecture, and in some cases better.

Full disclosure:  I work for QLogic on the InfiniPath product line.


On Wed, 2007-07-18 at 18:50, Brian Dobbins wrote:
> Hi guys,
>   Greg, thanks for the link!  It will no doubt take me a little while 
> to parse all the MPI2007 info (even though there are only a few 
> submitted results at the moment!), but one of the first things I 
> noticed was that performance of pop2 on the HP blade system was beyond

> atrocious... any thoughts on why this is the case?  I can't see any 
> logical reason for the scaling they have, which (being the first thing

> I noticed) makes me somewhat hesitant to put much stock into the 
> results at the moment.  Perhaps this system is just a statistical blip

> on the radar which will fade into noise when additional results are 
> posted, but until that time, it'd be nice to know why the results are 
> the way they are.
>   To spell it out a bit, the reference platform is at 1 (ok, 0.994) on
> 16 cores, but then the HP blade system at 16 cores is at 1.94.  Not 
> bad there.  However, moving up we have:
>   32 cores   - 2.36
>   64 cores  -  2.02
>  128 cores -  2.14
>  256 cores -  3.62
>   So not only does it hover at 2.x for a while, but then going from
> 128 -> 256 it gets a decent relative improvement.  Weird.
>   On the other hand, the Cambridge system (with the same processors 
> and a roughly similar interconnect, it seems) has the follow scaling 
> from 32->256 cores:
>    32 cores - 4.29
>    64 cores - 7.37
>   128 cores - 11.5
>   256 cores - 15.4
>   ... So, I'm mildly confused as to the first results.  Granted, 
> different compilers are being used, and presumably there are other 
> differences, too, but I can't see how -any- of them could result in 
> the scores the HP system got.  Any thoughts?  Anyone from HP (or
> QLogic) care to comment?  I'm not terribly knowledgeable about the MPI
> 2007 suite yet, unfortunately, so maybe I'm just overlooking 
> something.
>   Cheers,
>   - Brian
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