InfiniBand is a powerful new architecture designed to support I/O connectivity for the Internet infrastructure.InfiniBand is supported by all the major OEM server vendors as a means to expand beyond and create the next generation I/O interconnect standard in servers. For the first time, a high volume, industry standard I/O interconnect extends the role of traditional in the box busses. InfiniBand is unique in providing both, an in the box backplane solution an external interconnect and Bandwidth Out of the box, thus it provides connectivity in a way previously reserved only for traditional networking interconnects. This unification of I/O and system area networking requires a new architecture that supports the needs of these two previously separate domains. Underlying this major I/O transition is InfiniBandâ„¢s ability to support the Internetâ„¢s requirement for RAS: reliability, availability, and serviceability. This white paper discusses the features and capabilities which demonstrate InfiniBandâ„¢s superior abilities to support RAS relative to the legacy PCI bus and other proprietary switch fabric and I/O solutions. Further, it provides an overview of how the InfiniBand architecture supports a comprehensive silicon, software, and system solution. The comprehensive nature of the architecture is illustrated by providing an overview of the major sections of the InfiniBand 1.0 specification. The scope of the 1.0 specification ranges from industry standard electrical interfaces and mechanical connectors to well defined software and management interfaces.
Name Faizal A Rahiman
Date of Birth 30-04-1982
Permanent Address Shamim Villa
Amdahlâ„¢s Law is one of the fundamental principles of computer science and basically states that efficient systems must provide a balance between CPU performance, memory bandwidth, and I/O performance. At odds with this, is Mooreâ„¢s Law which has accurately predicted that semiconductors double their performance roughly every 18 months. Since I/O interconnects are governed by mechanical and electrical limitations more severe than the scaling capabilities of semiconductors, these two laws lead to an eventual imbalance and limit system performance. This would suggest that I/O interconnects need to radically change every few years in order to maintain system performance. In fact, there is another practical law which prevents I/O interconnects from changing frequently - if it am not broke donâ„¢t fix it.
Bus architectures have a tremendous amount of inertia because they dictate the bus interface architecture of semiconductor devices. For this reason, successful bus architectures typically enjoy a dominant position for ten years or more. The PCI bus was introduced to the standard PC architecture in the early 90â„¢s and has maintained its dominance with only one major upgrade during that period: from 32 bit/33 MHz to 64bit/66Mhz. The PCI-X initiative takes this one step further to 133MHz and seemingly should provide the PCI architecture with a few more years of life. But there is a divergence between what personal computer and servers require.
Personal Computers or PCs are not pushing the bandwidth capabilities of PCI 64/66. PCI slots offer a great way for home or business users to purchase networking, video decode, advanced sounds, or other cards and upgrade the capabilities of their PC. On the other hand, servers today often include clustering, networking (Gigabit Ethernet) and storage (Fibre Channel) cards in a single system and these push the 1GB bandwidth limit of PCI-X.
With the deployment of the InfiniBand architecture the bandwidth limitation of PCI-X becomes even more acute. The IBA has defined 4X links, which are deploying as PCI HCAs (Host Bus Adapters) in the market today, and even though these HCAs offer greater bandwidth that have ever been achieve in the past; PCI-X is a bottleneck as the total aggregate bandwidth of a single InfiniBand 4X link is 20 Gb/s or 2.5 GB/s. This is where new local I/O technologies like Hyper Transport and 3GIO will play a key complementary role to InfiniBand. The popularity of the Internet and the demand for 24/7 uptime is driving system performance and reliability requirements to levels that todayâ„¢s PCI interconnect architectures can no longer support. Data storage elements; web, application and database servers; and enterprise computing is driving the need for failsafe, always available systems, offering ever higher performance. The trend in the industry is to move storage out of the server to isolated storage networks and distribute data across fault tolerant storage systems. These demands go beyond a simple requirement for more bandwidth, and PCI based systems have reached the limits of shared bus architectures. With CPU frequencies passing the gigahertz (GHz) threshold and network bandwidth exceeding one gigabit per second (Gb/s), there is a need for a new I/O interconnect offering higher bandwidth to support and scale with todayâ„¢s devices. Introduce InfiniBand, a switch-based serial I/O interconnect architecture operating at a base speed of 2.5 Gb/s or 10 Gb/s in each direction (per port). Unlike shared bus architectures, InfiniBand is a low pin count serial architecture that can connect devices on the PCB and enables Bandwidth Out of the Box, spanning distances of up to 17m over ordinary twisted pair copper wires. Over common fiber cable it can span distances of several kilometers or more. Furthermore, InfiniBand provides both QoS (Quality of Service) and RAS (reliability, availability, and serviceability). These RAS capabilities have been designed into the InfiniBand architecture from the beginning and are critical to its ability to serve as the common I/O infrastructure for the next generation of compute server and storage systems at the heart of the Internet. As a result, InfiniBand will radically alter the systems and interconnects of the Internet infrastructure1.This paper discusses the features inherent to InfiniBand that enable this transformation.
InfiniBand is backed by top companies in the industry, including the steering committee members: Compaq, Dell, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Sun. In total, there are more than 220 members of the InfiniBand Trade Association. The InfiniBand architecture offers all the benefits mentioned but to realize the full performance bandwidth of the current 10Gb/s links the PCI limitation must be removed and this is where currently developing interconnect technologies will assist InfiniBand. This paper will illustrate how to realize the full potential of InfiniBand, including full bandwidth, even up to the 12X link specification (or 30 Gb/s in each direction), in a later section.
Important markets such as Application Clustering, Storage Area Networks, Inter-Tier communication and Inter-Processor Communication (IPC) require high bandwidth, QoS, and RAS features. Also, many embedded systems (including routers, storage systems, and intelligent switches) utilize the PCI bus, often in the Compact PCI format, for their internal I/O architecture. Such systems are unable to keep up with high-speed networking interconnects such as Gigabit Ethernet and ATM, and therefore many companies are developing proprietary I/O interconnect architectures. Building on the experience of developing Ethernet Local Area Networks (LAN), Fibre Channel Storage Area Networks, and numerous Wide Area Network (WAN) interconnects, InfiniBand has been networked to go beyond the needs of todayâ„¢s markets and provide a cohesive interconnect for a wide range of systems. This is accomplished with direct support for highly important items such as RAS, QoS, and scalability.
2.1 Application Clustering
The Internet today has evolved into a global infrastructure supporting applications such as streaming media, business to business solutions, E-commerce, and interactive portal sites. Each of these applications must support an ever increasing volume of data and demand for reliability. Service providers are in turn experiencing tremendous pressure to support these applications. They must route traffic efficiently through increasingly congested communication lines, while offering the opportunity to charge for differing QoS and security levels. Application Service Providers (ASP) has arisen to support the outsourcing of e-commerce, e-marketing, and other e-business activities to companies specializing in web-based applications. These ASPs must be able to offer highly reliable services that offer the ability to dramatically scale in a short period of time to accommodate the explosive growth of the Internet. The cluster has evolved as the preferred mechanism to support these requirements.
A cluster is simply a group of servers connected by load balancing switches working in parallel to serve a particular application. InfiniBand simplifies application cluster connections by unifying the network interconnect with a feature-rich managed architecture. InfiniBandâ„¢s switched architecture provides native cluster connectivity, thus supporting scalability and reliability inside and out of the box. Devices can be added and multiple paths can be utilized with the addition of switches to the fabric. High priority transactions between devices can be processed ahead of the lower priority items through QoS mechanisms built in to InfiniBand.
2.2 Inter-Processor Communication (IPC)
Inter-Processor Communication allows multiple servers to work together on a single application. A high bandwidth, low-latency reliable connection is required between servers to ensure reliable processing. Scalability is critical as applications require more processor bandwidth. The switched nature of InfiniBand provides connection reliability for IPC systems by allowing multiple paths between systems. Scalability is supported with fully hot swappable connections managed by a single unit (Subnet Manager).With multicast support, single transactions can be made to multiple destinations. This includes sending to all systems on the subnet or to only a subset of these systems. The higher bandwidth connections (4X, 12X) defined by InfiniBand provide backbone capabilities for IPC clusters without the need of a secondary I/O interconnect.
2.3 Storage Area Networks
Storage Area Networks are groups of complex storage systems connected together through managed switches to allow very large amounts of data to be accessed from multiple servers. Today, Storage Area Networks are built using Fibre Channel switches, hubs, and servers which are attached through Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBA). Storage Area Networks are used to provide reliable connections to large databases of information that the Internet Data Center requires. A storage area network can restrict the data that individual servers can access thereby providing an important partitioning mechanism (sometimes called zoning or fencing).The fabric topology of InfiniBand allows communication to be simplified between storage and server. Removal of the Fibre Channel network allows servers to directly connect to a storage area network without a costly HBA. With features such as Remote DMA (RDMA) support, simultaneous peer to peer communication and end to end flow control, InfiniBand overcomes the deficiencies of Fibre Channel without the need of an expensive, complex HBA. A bandwidth comparison can be seen later in this report. The shared bus architecture is the most common I/O interconnects today although there are numerous drawbacks. Clusters and networks require systems with high speed fault tolerant interconnects that cannot be properly supported with a bus architecture. Thus all bus architectures require network interface modules to enable scalable, network topologies. To keep pace with systems, I/O architecture must provide a high speed connection with the ability to scale. Table provides a simple feature comparison between switched fabric architecture and a shared bus architecture.
3.0 I/O Architectures - Fabric vs. Bus
The shared bus architecture is the most common I/O interconnects today although there are numerous drawbacks. Clusters and networks require systems with high speed fault tolerant interconnects that cannot be properly supported with a bus architecture. Thus all bus architectures require network interface modules to enable scalable, network topologies. To keep pace with systems, I/O architecture must provide a high speed connection with the ability to scale. Table 1 provides a simple feature comparison between switched fabric architecture and shared bus architecture.
3.1 Shared Bus Architecture
In a bussed architecture, all communication shares the same bandwidth. The more ports added to the bus, the less bandwidth available to each peripheral. They also have severe electrical, mechanical, and power issues. On a parallel bus, there are many pins necessary for each connection (64 bit PCI requires 90 pins), making layout of a board very tricky and consuming precious printed circuit board (PCB) space. At high bus frequencies, the distance of each signal is limited to short traces on the PCB board. In a slot-base system with multiple card slots, termination is uncontrolled and can cause problems if not designed properly.
There is a load limit to a bus design that only allows a few devices per bus. Adding a bridge device to provide another bus with a new load limit behind the bridge overcomes this limitation. Although this allows for more devices to be connected to the system, data still flows through the central bus when accessing devices on other parts of the system. Latency and congestion increases with each bridge added to the system. A bus must be designed to operate under fully loaded conditions assuming the worst case number of devices allowed by the specification, which fundamentally limits the bus frequency. One of the major issues with a bus is that it canâ„¢t support out of the box system interconnects. To get systems to talk together, a separate interconnect is required, such as Ethernet (server-to-server communication) or Fibre Channel (storage networking).
3.2 Switched Fabric Architecture
A switched fabric is a point-to-point switch-based interconnect designed for fault tolerance and scalability. A point-to-point switch fabric means that every link has exactly one device connected at each end of the link. Thus the loading and termination characteristics are well controlled and (unlike the bus architecture), with only one device allowed, the worst case is the same as the typical case and therefore I/O performance can be much greater with a fabric. The switched fabric architecture provides scalability which can be accomplished by adding switches to the fabric and connecting more endnodes. Unlike a shared bus architecture, the aggregate bandwidth of a system increases as additional switches are added to the network. Multiple paths between devices keep the aggregate bandwidth high and provide fail-safe, redundant connections.
3.3 I/O Interconnect Comparison
There are numerous standards today vying for supremacy in the interconnect market. Along with InfiniBand these include PCI-X, Fibre Channel, 3GIO, Gigabit Ethernet, and Rapid I/O. With the introduction of PCI-X, the reigning leader of the I/O interconnect market makes an attempt at supporting next generation high speed systems. Although PCI will not disappear completely, its deficiencies will make growth very limited. To make the comparison with InfiniBand is trivial. PCI-X operating at 133 MHz is a 90 pin bus with a fan-out of one.
This severely limits its reach in the market and without the notion of switches; PCI-X does not provide scalability. In contrast, InfiniBand supports 64k nodes per subnet, utilizing high port density switches requiring only four pins for each connection. An additional advantage is the low power requirements of InfiniBand physical layer devices (PHYs) relative to other serial interconnect technologies. An InfiniBand copper PHY requires only about 0.25 watts per port. In contrast, a Gigabit Ethernet PHY requires roughly two watts per port. The order of magnitude difference is explained by realizing that Gigabit Ethernet PHY's are designed to support local area networks (LAN's) requiring connections spanning at least 100 meters. InfiniBand addresses only server and storage connections within the Internet Data Center and thus does not need to span such great lengths, and can therefore operate at a reduced power level. The much lower PHY power results in both integration and RAS cost advantages for InfiniBand. In this case, semiconductor integration is limited by the maximum power level of a chip (this time Moore's Law runs into the first law of thermodynamics).Thus for Gigabit Ethernet it may not be feasible to integrate PHYs into switches with 8, 16, 24, or more ports. In contrast with InfiniBand's reduced PHY power requirements these higher port count devices are entirely within reach. Reducing a multi-chip system to a single chip solution provides substantial cost as well as area savings. Whether or not the PHYs are integrated InfiniBand's reduced power consumption results in cost savings for highly available applications. High availability requires uninterruptible power supplies in case of power failures. In this era of increased rolling brown-outs, this is a very real issue that facility managers must account for when designing their Internet Infrastructure.
With even a moderately sized network InfiniBand can result in hundreds of watts of power and as a result cost savings. Table compares features supported in hardware by InfiniBand and by other interconnect hardware. For the markets encompassed by the Internet Data Center, there are serious drawbacks to these other architectures that point to InfiniBand as the interconnect standard of the future. Most notably, InfiniBand is the only architecture that can be used on the PCB while also providing out of the box system interconnects (via fiber or copper cabling). InfiniBand is designed as an I/O fabric and delivers transport level connections in hardware and thus is the only technology designed to support all of the data center on a single unified fabric. Each of these technologies offer benefits to the specific problems they were designed to solve, but only InfiniBand offers a single unified wire interconnect for clustering, communication and storage.
3.4 Interconnects Complement InfiniBand
Several of these new interconnects are actually key enablers for InfiniBand as they provide access to new levels of processor bandwidth and allow InfiniBand to extend this bandwidth outside the box. Technologies such as 3GIO, Hyper Transport, and Rapid I/O are being developed and this will provide InfiniBand with a point of attachment to system logic that can support the 20 Gb/s required by 4X InfiniBand links and even the 60 Gb/sec needed by12X InfiniBand links. These technologies complement InfiniBand nicely.
3.5 Bandwidth Out of the Box
A fundamental aspect of the InfiniBand Architecture is the concept of Bandwidth Out of the Box. InfiniBand has the ability to take bandwidth, which has historically been trapped inside the server, and extend this across the fabric. InfiniBand enables 10Gb/s performance to be effectively utilized, by delivering the data precisely where it is needed anywhere in the fabric. Historically bandwidth goes down the farther from the CPU data travels. The following graphic illustrates this phenomenon and the historical trends. Outside of the box means bandwidth all the way to the edge of the data center, from the processor to I/O, between servers for clustering or inter-processor communication (IPC), to storage and to the edge of the data center. Current state of the art processors have front side busses able to communicate with other processors and memory at 25 Gb/sec, but the PCI-X systems available today constrain the bandwidth available outside the box to only 8 Gb/s. Actual bandwidth within the data center is even further limited, with IPC bandwidth constrained to 1 or 2 Gb/s, Fibre Channel or storage communication is at best 2 Gb/sec and communication between systems, typically over Ethernet is limited to 1Gb/s. This illustrates that from the processor to the edge of the data center an order of magnitude of bandwidth is lost. As discussed, new interconnects, namely 3GIO, Hyper Transport or Rapid I/O can be used to increase I/O bandwidth well past 30 or even 60 Gb/s. As new processors and/or system chip sets incorporate these interconnects the current PCI limitations are overcome. From there the bandwidth of InfiniBand can be unleashed as the HCA will connect into these interconnects and this allows clustering, communication and storage all to be connected at native InfiniBand speeds. Today the 1X (2.5 Gb/s) and 4X (10 Gb/s) links are being deployed and in 2003 the market will begin to see the deployment of 12X or 30 Gb/s links. The figure below illustrates how InfiniBand releases Bandwidth Out of the Box by giving a historical look at bandwidth in the data center. Circa 1998: Intelâ„¢s Pentium II offered world class performance but the overall design of the compute server architecture limited the processors bandwidth to "inside the box. The further data travels from the processor the lower the bandwidth, until more than an order of magnitude of bandwidth is lost at the edge 100 Mb/sec. circa 1999: The Pentium III improves processor performance but the equation stays the same. Bandwidth is lost over distance as data centers still communicate at only 100 Mb/sec at the edge. In 2000 & 2001 the Pentium 4 and all other data center sub systems improve bandwidth, but the equation still remains the same: there is more than an order of magnitude loss of bandwidth from the Processor to the edge of the data center. The InfiniBand Architecture changes the equation. The InfiniBand architecture provides 20Gb/s bandwidth (aggregate baud rate) from the processor to the edge of the data center including LAN/WAN and storage connection. InfiniBand enables Bandwidth Out of the Box allowing processor level bandwidth to move all the way to the edge of the data center. And the InfiniBand Architecture provides the headroom at 12X to scale to 60 Gb/s in 2003.
It is important to note that InfiniBand delivers not only bandwidth, but also delivers the data right where it is needed; through RDMA transfers from system memory to system memory. InfiniBand implements reliable in-order transport connections in hardware and thus data is delivered extremely efficiently, with low latencies and without host CPU assistance. This is a huge benefit as compared to Ethernet which has much longer latencies and consumes significant CPU cycles to run the TCP stack.
4.0 InfiniBand Technical Overview
InfiniBand is a switch-based point-to-point interconnects architecture developed for todayâ„¢s systems with the ability to scale for next generation system requirements. It operates both on the PCB as a component to component interconnects as well as an out of the box chassis-to-chassis interconnect. Each individual link is based on a four-wire 2.5 Gb/s bidirectional connection. The architecture defines a layered hardware protocol (Physical, Link, Network, Transport Layers) as well as a software layer to manage initialization and the communication between devices. Each link can support multiple transport services for reliability and multiple prioritized virtual communication channels. To manage the communication within a subnet, the architecture defines a communication management scheme that is responsible for configuring and maintaining each of the InfiniBand elements. Management schemes are defined for error reporting, link failover, chassis management as well as other services to ensure a solid connection fabric.
InfiniBand Feature Set
Â¢ Layered Protocol - Physical, Link, Network, Transport, Upper Layers
Â¢ Packet Based Communication
Â¢ Quality of Service
Â¢ Three Link Speeds
1X - 2.5 Gb/s, 4 wire
4X - 10 Gb/s, 16 wires
12X - 30 Gb/s, 48 wires
Â¢ PCB, Copper and Fiber Cable Interconnect
Â¢ Subnet Management Protocol
Â¢ Remote DMA Support
Â¢ Multicast and Unicast Support
Â¢ Reliable Transport Methods - Message Queuing
Â¢ Communication Flow Control - Link Level and End to End
4.1 InfiniBand Layers
The InfiniBand architecture is divided into multiple layers where each layer operates independently of one another. As shown in Figure on page 11, InfiniBand is broken into the following layers: Physical, Link, Network, Transport, and Upper Layers.
4.1.1 Physical Layer
InfiniBand is a comprehensive architecture that defines both electrical and mechanical characteristics for the system. These include cables and receptacles for fiber and copper media; backplane connectors; and hot swap characteristics. InfiniBand defines three link speeds at the physical layer, 1X, 4X, 12X. Each individual link is a four wire serial differential connection (two wires in each direction) that provides a full duplex connection at 2.5 Gb/s. These links are illustrated in figure. InfiniBand defines multiple connectors for out of the box communications. Both fiber and copper cable connectors are defined as well as a backplane connector for rack-mounted systems.
4.1.2 Link Layer
The link layer (along with the transport layer) is the heart of the InfiniBand Architecture. The link layer encompasses packet layout, point-to-point link operations, and switching within a local subnet.
There are two types of packets within the link layer, management and data packets. Management packets are used for link configuration and maintenance. Device information, such as Virtual Lane support is determined with management packets. Data packets carry up to 4k bytes of a transaction payload.
Within a subnet, packet forwarding and switching is handled at the link layer. All devices within a subnet have a 16 bit Local ID (LID) assigned by the Subnet Manager. All packets sent within a subnet use the LID for addressing. Link Level switching forwards packets to the device specified by a Destination LID within a Local Route Header (LRH) in the packet. The LRH is present in all packets.
QoS is supported by InfiniBand through Virtual Lanes (VL). These VLs are separate logical communication links which share a single physical link. Each link can support up to 15 standard VLs and one management lane (VL 15). VL15 is the highest priority and VL0 is the lowest. Management packets use VL15 exclusively.
Each device must support a minimum of VL0 and VL15 while other VLs are optional. As a packet traverses the subnet, a Service Level (SL) is defined to ensure its QoS level. Each link along a path can have a different VL, and the SL provides each link a desired priority of communication. Each switch/router has a SL to VL mapping table that is set by the subnet manager to keep the proper priority with the number of VLs supported on each link. Therefore, the IBA can ensure end-to-end QoS through switches, routers and over the long haul.
Â¢ Credit Based Flow Control
Flow control is used to manage data flow between two point-to-point links. Flow control is handled on a per VL basis allowing separate virtual fabrics to maintain communication utilizing the same physical media. Each receiving end of a link supplies credits to the sending device on the link to specify the amount of data that can be received without loss of data. Credit passing between each device is managed by a dedicated link packet to update the number of data packets the receiver can accept. Data is not transmitted unless the receiver advertises credits indicating receive buffer space is available.
Â¢ Data integrity
At the link level there are two CRCs per packet, Variant CRC (VCRC) and Invariant CRC (ICRC) that ensure data integrity. The 16 bit VCRC includes all fields in the packet and is recalculated at each hop. The 32 bit ICRC covers only the fields that do not change from hop to hop. The VCRC provides link level data integrity between two hops and the ICRC provides end-to-end data integrity. In a protocol like Ethernet which defines only a single CRC, an error can be introduced within a device which then recalculates the CRC. The check at the next hop would reveal a valid CRC even though the data has been corrupted. InfiniBand includes the ICRC so that when a bit error is introduced, the error will always be detected.
4.1.3 Network Layer
The network layer handles routing of packets from one subnet to another (within a subnet, the network layer is not required). Packets that are sent between subnets contain a Global Route Header (GRH). The GRH contains the 128 bit IPv6 address for the source and destination of the packet. The packets are forwarded between subnets through a router based on each deviceâ„¢s 64 bit globally unique ID (GUID). The router modifies the LRH with the proper local address within each subnet. Therefore the last router in the path replaces the LID in the LRH with the LID of the destination port. Within the network layer InfiniBand packets do not require the network layer information and header overhead when used within a single subnet (which is a likely scenario for Infiniband system area networks).
4.1.4 Transport Layer
The transport layer is responsible for in-order packet delivery, partitioning, channel multiplexing and transport services (reliable connection, reliable datagram, unreliable connection, unreliable datagram, raw datagram). The transport layer also handles transaction data segmentation when sending and reassembly when receiving.
Based on the Maximum Transfer Unit (MTU) of the path, the transport layer divides the data into packets of the proper size. The receiver reassembles the packets based on a Base Transport Header (BTH) that contains the destination queue pair and packet sequence number. The receiver acknowledges the packets and the sender receives the acknowledge and updates the completion queue with the status of the operation. There is a significant improvement that the IBA offers for the transport layer: all functions are implemented in hardware. InfiniBand specifies multiple transport services for data reliability. Table describes each of the supported services. For a given queue pair, one transport level is used.
4.2 InfiniBand Elements
The InfiniBand architecture defines multiple devices for system communication: a channel adapter, switch, router, and a subnet manager. Within a subnet, there must be at least one channel adapter for each end node and a subnet manager to set up and maintain the link. All channel adapters and switches must contain a Subnet Management Agent (SMA) required for handling communication with the subnet manager.
4.2.1 Channel Adapters
A channel adapter connects InfiniBand to other devices. There are two types of channel adapters, a Host Channel Adapter (HCA) and a Target Channel Adapter (TCA).
An HCA provides an interface to a host device and supports all software Verbs defined by InfiniBand. Verbs are an abstract representation which defines the required interface between the client software and the functions of the HCA. Verbs do not specify the application programming interface (API) for the operating system, but define the operation for OS vendors to develop a usable API. A TCA provides the connection to an I/O device from InfiniBand with a subset of features necessary for each deviceâ„¢s specific operations.
Switches are the fundamental component of an InfiniBand fabric. A switch contains more than one InfiniBand port and forwards packets from one of its port to another based on the LID contained within the layer two Local Route Header. Other than management packets, a switch does not consume or generate packets. Like a channel adapter, switches are required to implement a SMA to respond to Subnet Management Packets. Switches can be configured to forward either unicast packets (to a single location) or multicast packets (addressed to multiple devices).
InfiniBand routers forward packets from one subnet to another without consuming or generating packets. Unlike a switch, a router reads the Global Route Header to forward the packet based on its IPv6 network layer address. The router rebuilds each packet with the proper LID on the next subnet.
4.2.4 Subnet Manager
The subnet manager configures the local subnet and ensures its continued operation. There must be at least one subnet manager present in the subnet to manage all switch and router setups and for subnet reconfiguration when a link goes down or a new link comes up. The subnet manager can be within any of the devices on the subnet. The Subnet Manager communicates to devices on the subnet through each dedicated SMA (required by each InfiniBand component). There can be multiple subnet managers residing in a subnet as long as only one is active. Non-active subnet managers (Standby Subnet Managers) keep copies of the active subnet managerâ„¢s forwarding information and verify that the active subnet manager is operational. If an active subnet manager goes down, a standby subnet manager will take over responsibilities to ensure the fabric does not go down with it.
4.3 Management Infrastructure
The InfiniBand architecture defines two methods of system management for handling all subnet bring up, maintenance, and general service functions associated with the devices in the subnet. Each method has a dedicated queue pair (QP) that is supported by all devices on the subnet to distinguish management traffic from all other traffic.
4.3.1 Subnet Management
The first method, subnet management, is handled by a Subnet Manager (SM). There must be at least one SM within a subnet to handle configuration and maintenance.These responsibilities include: LID assignment; SL to VL mapping; Link bring up and teardown; and Link Failover. All subnet management uses QP0 and is handled exclusively on a high priority virtual lane (VL15) to ensure the highest priority within the subnet. Subnet Management Packets (SMPs - pronounced sumps) are the only packets allowed on QP0 and VL15. This VL uses the Unreliable Datagram transport service and does not follow the same flow control restriction as other VLs on the links. Subnet management information is passed through the subnet ahead of all other traffic on a link. The subnet manager simplifies the responsibilities of client software by taking all configuration requirements and handling them in the background.
4.3.2 General Services
The second method defined by InfiniBand is the General Services Interface (GSI). The GSI handles functions such as chassis management, out-of-band I/O operations, and other functions not associated with the subnet manager. These functions do not have the same high priority needs as subnet management, therefore the GSI management packets (GMPs - pronounced gumps) do not use the high priority virtual lane, VL15. All GSI commands use QP1 and must follow the flow control requirements of other data links.
4.4 InfiniBand Support for the Virtual Interface Architecture (VIA)
The Virtual Interface Architecture is a distributed messaging technology that is both hardware independent and compatible with current network interconnects. The architecture provides an API that can be utilized to provide high-speed and low-latency communications between peers in clustered applications. InfiniBand was developed with the VIA architecture in mind. InfiniBand off loads traffic control from the software client through the use of execution queues. These queues, called work queues, are initiated by the client, and then left for InfiniBand to manage. For each communication channel between devices, a Work Queue Pair (WQP - send and receive queue) is assigned at each end. The client places a transaction into the work queue (Work Queue Entry - WQE, pronounced wookie), which is then processed by the channel adapter from the send queue and sent out to the remote device. When the remote device responds, the channel adapter returns status to the client through a completion queue or event. The client can post multiple WQEs, and the channel adapterâ„¢s hardware will handle each of the communication requests. The channel adapter then generates a Completion Queue Entry (CQE) to provide status for each WQE in the proper prioritized order. This allows the client to continue with other activities while the transactions are being processed.
4.5 Realizing the Full Potential of Blade Computing
To fully realize the TCO benefits of blade based server computing the blade technology must deliver at a minimum the following core functions: scalability, fault tolerance, hot swap, QoS, clustering, support for I/O connectivity (both memory and message semantics), reliability, redundancy, active stand-bye for failover, interconnect manageability, error detection and more. Itâ„¢s fairly straight forward to understand why the IT Manager would require these attributes in every new server platform that is deployed. As outlined in this paper, all of these attributes are delivered natively with within the InfiniBand Architecture and they will truly unleash the full potential that blade computing promises. In a upcoming white paper by Mellanox Technologies, we will explore the attributes and TCO benefits of InfiniBand Server Blades, in detail.
It is an effective for implementation of HCAs, TCAs, or stand alone switches with very few external components. The deviceâ„¢s channel adapter side has a standard 64-bit-wide PCI interface operating at 66 MHz that enables operation a with variety of standard I/O controllers, motherboards, and backplanes. The deviceÃ‚Â´ InfiniBand side is an advanced switch architecture that is configurable as eight 1x ports, two 4x ports, or a mix of each. Industry standard external serial/desterilizers interface the switch port to InfiniBand supported media. No external memory is required for switching or channel adapter funchions.The embedded processor initializes the IC on reset and executes subnet management agent functions in firm wire. A 12C EPROM holds boot configuration.
InfiniBridge also effectively implements managed switch applications. The PCI or CPU interface can connect external controllers running InfiniBand management software.
Or an unmanaged switch design can eliminate the processor connection for applications with low area and part count.Apprpriate configuration of the ports can implement a 4x to four 1x aggregation switches.
InfiniBridge channel adapter has two blocks each having independent ports to the switched fabric architecture. One block to DMA engine interface to PCI bus and the other uses PCI target and master PCI interfaces. This enables PCI-to PCI bridging over the InfiniBand fabric. Both blocks include hardware transport engines that implement the InfiniBand features. The DMA interface can move data directly between local memory and InfiniBand channels. This process uses execution queues containing linked lists of descriptors that one of multiple DMA execution engines will execute. Each descriptor can contain a multientry scatter-gather list and each engine can use this list to gather data from multiple local memories and combine it into a single message to send into an InfiniBand channel. The DMA engine supports re-execution of descriptors whose messages are corrupted in the InfiniBand fabric.
The collective effort of industry leaders has successfully transitioned InfiniBand from technology demonstrations to the first real product deployments. The IBTA currently has over 220 members, the specification is mature (over a year since the 1.0 release), multiple vendors have publicly shown working silicon and systems, and interoperability between InfiniBand silicon vendors has been demonstrated. The benefits of the InfiniBand architecture are clear and include: support for RAS (Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability), a fabric that works both in-the-box and enables Bandwidth Out of the Box, and scalability well into the future. The IBTA has a vision to improve and simplify the data center through InfiniBand technology and the fabric it creates as an interconnect for servers, communications and storage. Imagine a data center made of servers that are all closely clustered together. These servers have only processors and memory that connect to storage and communications via InfiniBand ports. This allows for much greater processor performance via Virtual Interface clustering, greater processor and memory density (as most of the peripheral devices have moved out of the server racks), and much greater (InfiniBand) I/O bandwidth. Best of all, all these improvements are based upon an architecture designed for RAS. Now imagine all this wrapped around the flexibility of upgrading your existing servers, though PCI (upgraded by 3GIO) and through InfiniBand Server Blades. The rapid adoption of Infiniband continues and its being welcomed as more businesses and consumers utilize the Internet more often and at higher bandwidths.
1. IEEE Magazine Micro March/April 2002,InfiniBridge:by Chris Eddington page no.48
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