[Beowulf] Intel buys QLogic InfiniBand business

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Mon Jan 23 16:03:14 PST 2012

On 01/23/2012 06:24 PM, Vincent Diepeveen wrote:
> On Jan 24, 2012, at 12:02 AM, Joshua mora acosta wrote:


> Nanosecond latency of QPI using 2 rings versus something that has a
> latency up to factor 1000 slower
> with the pci-e as the slowest delaying factor.
> Doing cache coherency over that forget it.

Hear that Shai F?  Stop work on vSMP now, cause Vincent says it can't 

More seriously, with this acquisition, I could see serious contention 
for ScaleMP.  SoC type stuff, using IB between many nodes, in smaller boxen.

>> In any case, by acquiring their IP it is a step forward towards SoC
>> (System on
>> Chip). A preliminary step (building block) for the Exascale
>> strategy and for
>> low cost enterprise/cloud solutions.


> Not with intel. Intel sells fast equipment yet it has a huge price
> always,
> about the opposite of infiniband which is a dirt cheap technology.

Must use Shakespeare for this takedown:  Methinks thou dost protesteth 
too much ...

> I guess we must see this much simpler. At such a giant as intel,
> paying a bit over 100 million is peanuts.
> Probably less than what they would need to pay for royalties to a
> manufacturer owning a bunch of patents
> in the ethernet NIC area; the HPC intel gets 'for free'.

So ... exactly what are the existing intel 10GbE NIC's then ... Swiss 
Cheese?  I see a fair number of vendors licensing Intel's IP, or, more 
to the point, using Intel silicon (hint: this might be a good reason for 
the acquisition) to build their stuff...

> Allows them to produce maybe a 10 gigabit ethernet NIC dirt cheap

... which they have been doing for years ...

> without needing to pay royalties to qlogic.

... not sure they were, but its possible Qlogic has 10GbE IP that Intel 
licenses, but this transaction was about ... Infiniband ...


> meanwhile ethernet is total crucial to have low latency for the
> financial world, as they can make dozens of billions a year by being
> faster
> than others at exchanges.

Errr ... given that this is one of our core markets, don't mind if I 
note that latency is critical to these players, so proximity to the 
exchange, and reliable and deterministic latency is absolutely critical. 
  There are switches that are doing 300ns port to port in the Ethernet 
space now.  With the NICs, you are looking in the 2-ish microsecond 
regime.  These are not cheap.

Compare this to QDR.  1 microsecond +/- some.

Which has lower latency?

There are many reasons why exchanges (mostly) aren't on IB.  A few of 
them are even valid technical reasons.  Historical momentum, and 
conservative approaches to new technology rank pretty high.  So does the 
inability to generally export IB far and wide.  And the complexity of 
the stack.  Ethernet is (almost) plug and play.  Its just a network.

IB is sort of kind of plug, install OFED, and play for a while over 
IPoIB until you can recode for some of the RDMA bits.  And don't try to 
run file systems and other things with lots of traffic over IPoIB.  It 
leaks and gradually you will catch some cool ... surprises.

Honestly, its a shame that IPoIB never really got the attention it 
deserved like the other elements of the IB stack did.  Getting a rock 
solid IP implementation atop a fast/low latency net could have driven 
many design wins outside of HPC.  And would have been a gateway 
drug^H^H^H^Htechnology for using the other stack elements.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics Inc.
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web  : http://scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423 x121
fax  : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615

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