[Beowulf] Infiniband and multi-cpu configuration

Gilad Shainer Shainer at mellanox.com
Fri Feb 8 09:21:26 PST 2008

Hi Daniel,

> We'll move our GigE structure to an InfiniBand 4X DDR one ( 
> prices have dropped quite a bit ). Also we'll build on AMD 
> Opteron up to 4 or 8 cores. 
> In case of 8 cores:
> 	A 4 socket dual-core solution *must* scale better than 
> a 2 socket quad-core one, that is talking about memory 
> bandwith ( nearly double ).
> On the other hand, the Hypertransport links on Opteron 
> 2000/8000 series theorically rated at a 8 GB/s per link, so 
> that would be as equal as 4X SDR Infiniband...
> 	A configuration like:
> 		 2 PCs with 2 socket and 2 dual-core Opterons 
> linked together with Infiniband 4X DDR ( 8 cores )
> 	Should perform as:
> 		 1 PC with 4 socket ( dual-core ) Opteron based.
> 	Saving cost on Infiniband hardware.

As always, depends on the code. I saw cases where it was better to have
more servers and less CPUs per servers, and cases that it was the

> 	When maximizing cores per node, reducing network 
> connections and network protocol overhead and considering 
> Opteron memory architecture...
> is 8 ( 4 sockets * 2 cores ) an adequate number or a 4 ( 2 
> sockets * 2 cores ) is better?
> Also onboard memory InfiniBand HCAs must perform better than 
> memory-less ones, that is... but how much? any real numbers out there?

No, the mem-free HCAs provide the same and in some cases if better
performance than the onboard memory HCAs. Even more, the mem-free HCAs
architecture is more advanced and provided extra goodies. There is a
white paper on Mellanox web site that cover the mem-free architecture
and performance comparison between mem-free and the onboard memory HCAs.
If you will not be able to find it, let me know and I will send you a


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