[Beowulf] Thoughts on IB EDR and Intel OmniPath

Joe Landman landman at scalableinformatics.com
Fri Apr 29 15:45:44 PDT 2016

On 04/29/2016 06:18 PM, Hutcheson, Mike wrote:
> Hi.  We are looking at EDR and OmniPath for a new cluster we are looking to purchase this summer.  I am interested in what the Beowulf community has to say regarding the pros and cons for each of the technologies.  I am certainly not trying to start a flame war here, just looking for unbiased observations based on knowledge and experience.

I can talk more from the vendor side of this (and we integrate both 
vendor's gear into our systems, so take this with whatever amount of 
NaCl you think it needs).  Both are nice for a fairly widely overlapping 
range of needs.

We've been using the EDR and 100GbE side for a while now for our storage 
and hyperconverged systems.  I like that we can drive full bandwidth 
over the IB fabric without crushing the CPU.  With apologies to 
everyone, a link to a post I did about a month ago:


We plan to try a similar test with OPA at some point, and preliminary 
tests others have done have suggested that similar performance is 

Basically I think the choice comes down to the specifics of the codes 
you'll be running, and how you will be implementing the storage side.   
Both systems are nice, but you may find the polled mechanism of OPA 
might match your code base differently than the offload mechanism of EDR.

I would recommend staying away from 100GbE if you have the option to do 
EDR/OPA.  While we really enjoy 100GbE (and have shown some pretty 
terrific performance with it), I don't think the technology on 
congestion mediation is quite up to snuff handling these data rates, as 
compared to EDR/OPA.  Even with RoCE2, some of the testing we did 
demonstrated very significant congestion related slowdowns that we 
couldn't easily tune for (with PFC and other bits that RoCE needs).

I've used iWARP in the dim and distant past, and it was much better than 
plain old gigabit on the same systems (with Ammasso cards). But I'd 
recommend going with EDR/OPA if you have the choice.  You can always 
have your storage or other nodes handle ethernet gatewaying if needed.

Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics, Inc.
e: landman at scalableinformatics.com
w: http://scalableinformatics.com
t: @scalableinfo
p: +1 734 786 8423 x121
c: +1 734 612 4615

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