[Beowulf] building Infiniband 4x cluster questions

Vincent Diepeveen diep at xs4all.nl
Mon Nov 7 12:09:46 PST 2011

It seems the latency of DDR infiniband to do a blocked read from  
remote memory (RDMA) is between that of SDR and quadrics, with  
quadrics being a lot faster.


If i click there i get to a MarkLehrer.pdf


It claims a RDMA read has latency of 1.91 us.

However i'll have to see that in my own benchmark first before i  
believe it when we hammer with many different processes
at that card at the same time. You get problems like switch latencies  
and other nasty stuff then.

This is a presentation slide and i need something that works in reality.

HP 4X DDR InfiniBand Mezzanine HCA 410533-B21 SFF-8470

they're $75 but just 2 of them available on ebay. The next 'ddr' one is


So that's a qlogic one, $108 just 3 of them available, but we already  
get at a dangerous price level.
Remember i want well over a million reads getting done a second and i  
didn't count the pollution by writes even yet.

HP 4X DDR InfiniBand Mezzanine HCA - 2 Ports 448262-B21

They're $121 and again just 2 available.

This seems a problem with infiniband on ebay. Even if you search 16  
cards, you can each time buy 2 or so max.
As if sometimes a scientist takes 2 back home and puts 'em on ebay.  
No big 'old' masses get posted there.

The first one to offer 10, that's http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP- 
That 's at $192.11 a piece.

It seems DDR infiniband still isn't in my pricerange Prentice.

The QM500-B's from quadrics go for between $30 and $50 however.

On Nov 7, 2011, at 7:16 PM, Prentice Bisbal wrote:

> Vincent,
> Don't forget that between SDR and QDR, there is DDR.  If SDR is too
> slow, and QDR is too expensive, DDR might be just right.
> --
> Goldilocks
> On 11/07/2011 11:58 AM, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
>> hi Prentice,
>> I had noticed the diff between SDR up to QDR,
>> the SDR cards are affordable, the QDR isn't.
>> The SDR's are all $50-$75 on ebay now. The QDR's i didn't find cheap
>> prices in that pricerange yet.
>> If i would want to build a network that's low latency and had a  
>> budget
>> of $800 or so a node of course i would
>> build a dolphin SCI network, as that's probably the fastest latency
>> card sold for a $675 or so a piece.
>> I do not really see a rival latency wise to Dolphin there. I bet most
>> manufacturers selling clusters don't use
>> it as they can make $100 more profit or so selling other networking
>> stuff, and universities usually swallow that.
>> So price total dominates the network. As it seems now infiniband  
>> 4x is
>> not going to offer enough performance.
>> The one-way pingpong latencies over a switch that i see of it, are  
>> not
>> very convincing. I see remote writes to RAM
>> are like nearly 10 microseconds for 4x infiniband and that card is  
>> the
>> only one affordable.
>> The old QM400's i have here are one-way pingpong 2.1 us or so, and
>> QM500-B's are plentyful on the net (of course big disadvantage: needs
>> pci-x),
>> which are a 1.3 us or so there and have SHMEM. Not seeing a cheap
>> switch for the QM500's though nor cables.
>> You see price really dominates everything here. Small cheap nodes you
>> cannot build if the port price, thanks to expensive network card,
>> more than doubles.
>> Power is not the real concern for now - if a factory already burns a
>> couple of hundreds of megawatts, a small cluster somewhere on the
>> attick eating
>> a few kilowatts is not really a problem :)
>> On Nov 7, 2011, at 5:36 PM, Prentice Bisbal wrote:
>>> On 11/06/2011 06:01 PM, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
>>>> hi,
>>>> There is a lot of infiniband 4x stuff on ebay now.
>>> Vincent,
>>> Do you mean 4x, or QDR? They refer to different parts of the IB
>>> architecture. 4x refers to the number of lanes for the data to  
>>> travel
>>> down and QDR refers to the data signalling rate.
>>> It's probably irrelevant for this conversation, but if you are just
>>> learning about IB, It's good to understand that difference.
>>> Prentice
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