Experimental Analysis of Communications Interfaces for High-Performance Clusters

This paper provides experimental data and analysis to quantify both the peak and sustained performance characteristics of four of the most promising new networking technologies for interconnecting machines in a high-performance cluster of workstations. These technologies include Scalable Coherent Interface (SCI), Myrinet, Fibre Channel System (FCS), and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). Cluster networking performance experiments are conducted and measurements presented in terms of effective throughput and two-way latency using several different software-based communications protocol interfaces, including TCP/IP, UIUC Fast Messages, UCB Generic Active Messages, and a new multi-layer communications interface called SCALE Suite. Finally, parallel and distributed processing experiments are conducted with these network architectures connecting UltraSPARC workstations, results are summarized and the basic scalability of the architectures is analyzed. Both parallel linear algebra and sorting programs are among the benchmarks, with a degree of parallelism that for some experiments reaches as high as several dozen.

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