Obsidian, OSU pair on Infiniband study

October 30, 2007 -- Obsidian's Longbow XR InfiniBand range extension products will be the subject of a Data Intensive Compute Environment (DICE) project awarded by Avetec, to be performed at Ohio State University.

October 30, 2007 -- Obsidian, a provider of InfiniBand range extension technology, announced that its Longbow XR range extension products will be the subject of a Data Intensive Compute Environment (DICE) project awarded by Advanced Virtual Engine Test Cell, Inc., (Avetec), to be performed by Prof. DK Panda of Ohio State University and the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratories.

"Long-haul InfiniBand is an intriguing technology that may enhance many aspects of large-scale computing and storage," comments Roger Panton, DICE program director. "Specializing in the analysis of network-centric computing environments, Prof. DK Panda and his team are well placed to help the DICE program integrate this new capability."

Avetec's DICE Program funds and supports studies related to the problem of moving and storing the very large data sets associated with science and technology simulation efforts. The initiative is divided into several focus areas; the two-phase project in question will investigate the use of Obsidian's Longbow XR in a number of key applications of interest to DICE.

"This DICE project is an ideal opportunity to investigate the application-level performance of complex and extensive multi-vendor environments when leveraging wide area InfiniBand," says Ohio State's Prof. DK Panda. "In particular, the system-level response to optical time-of-flight latencies across the WAN will be studied across a variety of equipment and higher level communications protocols."

In the project's first phase, Obsidian's long-haul InfiniBand range extension technology will be studied as a means to provide highly efficient transport of bulk data across the Wide Area Network (WAN). As data sets routinely grow into the Petabyte range (1 PByte = 1 million GBytes), the ability to move raw data or processed simulation results from disk to remote disk in an efficient manner becomes extremely critical, notes the company. Traditional approaches using the TCP/IP protocol have become decreasingly bandwidth efficient as wire-speed transmission rates and distance-induced latencies have increased. Obsidian contends that its Longbow XR technology avoids this problem by releasing 10 Gbit/sec InfiniBand packets directly across the WAN.

The project's second phase will use the same DICE technology test bed to quantify the performance of grid computing problems applied to WAN-distributed computing sources, e.g. the InfiniBand clustering of clusters. This portion of the study will emphasize optimally low latencies and CPU resource consumption using reliable RDMA message passing protocols across the WAN links.

"InfiniBand switches and adapters are limited to very short reach links suitable only for local connections within a supercomputer or data center. Longbow XR's unique range-extension capability transparently joins remote InfiniBand fabrics across global distances using 10 Gbit/sec optical WANs," explains Dr. David Southwell, Obsidian's president and CEO. "Preserving the InfiniBand protocol -- especially RDMA -- on the WAN yields tremendous bandwidth and latency advantages over TCP/IP based alternatives."

Remote computing and storage resources at Avetec and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will be accessed from Ohio State University via Longbow XR devices across 10-Gigabit Ethernet links. However, for the bulk of the characterization work, WAN bandwidth restrictions and latencies will be artificially injected using Longbow XR's continuously variable network simulation features.

The project is already underway, and is scheduled to run for one year.

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