[Beowulf] thunderbolt?

Mark Hahn hahn at mcmaster.ca
Sat Feb 26 14:13:14 PST 2011

> I guess I'm lost on why this would be really useful, especially from a
> beowulfery perspective.  It's not like any sane Beowulfer would pay a
> premium for Macs just to have this interconnect when they could just get
> some old IB hardware.

Thunderbolt has nothing to do with Macs, of course.  at least Intel makes 
it sound as if they'll be pushing it into the commodity (PC) market, just 
as they did with PCI*/USB/etc.

there's a lot to not like about IB.  the fact that it's very nearly a 
one-company "ecosystem".  the fact that even the cheapest SDR IB setup
will set you back >$300/port (adapter, cable, switch), and "real" configs
are more like $1k/port.  or the just IB's gratuitous non-ethernet-ness.

what makes it interesting to me is that it appears to be headed towards 
commoditization/ubiquity like ethernet is (and like IB will never be.)
Intel talks about carying PCIE over thunderbolt - does that means that 
there may be a market for switched PCIE fabrics?  would that provide a 
lower-overhead RDMA mechanism?  some of the Intel verbiage mentions 
multiport controllers with builtin switching - does that mean that they're
thinking about, say, a 6-port adapter that can implement a switchless fabric?

it's quite difficult to understand at this point, expecially when the product
appears to have originally been a lab project in silicon photonics.

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