IBM benchmark tests show 10G Ethernet outperforming InfiniBand

Results showed that 10-Gigabit Ethernet is superior in performance to InfiniBand in some standard performance benchmark test suites and comparable in others.

Sep 22nd, 2010

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- According to a benchmark study recently conducted by IBM Corporation, 10-Gigabit Ethernet delivered better performance than InfiniBand and Gigabit Ethernet for a range of high performance computing (HPC) applications.

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"We are pleased that IBM has published the results of its extensive performance testing for key HPC applications and the results clearly show that 10Gb Ethernet is superior to InfiniBand for a broad base of HPC applications and very similar in others -- validating the reasons behind the rapidly growing success of Ethernet as the HPC interconnect technology," said Kianoosh Naghshineh, president and CEO of Chelsio Communications, Inc.

According to a press release issued by Chelsio, IBM researchers compared the performance of several applications in HPC using 4x InfiniBand DDR, 10 Gigabit Ethernet using iWARP, and Gigabit Ethernet using TCP/IP. The results showed 10Gb Ethernet is superior in performance to InfiniBand in some standard performance benchmark test suites and comparable in others.

The test configuration was a computing cluster using a 2.3 GHz quad-core Opteron processor, with each node having 16Gb memory and two quad-core processors. Each node was configured with a 4x DDR InfiniBand connected to a 96-port Cisco DDR switch, using dual-port DDR ConnectX adapters from Mellanox; a 10Gb Ethernet network using Chelsio dual-port adapters with full offload capability, connected to a 20-port Force10 10Gb Ethernet switch; and a Gigabit Ethernet network connected through a Cisco switch. The software configuration was standards-based as well, running RedHat Enterprise Linux Server release 5.2.

IBM ran eight applications over the networks, including NETPERF -- a benchmark suite that is commonly used to measure various aspects of networking performance, with a primary focus on bulk data transfer and request/response performance using either TCP/IP or UDP and the Berkeley Socket Interface (BSI). The NETPERF results showed 10Gb Ethernet greatly outperforming InfiniBand for both TCP and UDP, and the Gigabit Ethernet was a distant third.

Full report: IBM Benchmarks 10Gb Ethernet and InfiniBand for HPC Applications (PDF)

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