Performance Considerations for Network Switch Fabrics on Linux Clusters

P.J. Sokolowski and D. Grosu (USA)


cluster computing, performance evaluation, message passing.


One of the most significant components in a cluster is the interconnection network between computational nodes. A majority of today's clusters use either switched Fast Ether net, Gigabit Ethernet, or a specialized switch fabric to con nect nodes. However, the use of these specialized switch fabrics may not necessarily benefit the users, and in some cases they perform only slightly better than commodity Ethernet standards. In this paper we investigate the ne cessity of a high speed interconnect for Linux based clus ters and the performance differences between Myrinet and Ethernet connected networks. We benchmark applications and network performance in a dedicated environment with varying workloads and processing elements. We show that for certain workloads, a high speed interconnect is not re quired. We also examine the increased complexity of intro ducing high-speed switch fabrics, the importance of their underlying device drivers, and their usefulness with real ap plications. Finally, we make recommendations as to which network to use given a certain workload and available com putation nodes.

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