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Quadrics Interconnection Network
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Quadrics Interconnection Network

High performance computing (HPC) has come of age. No longer is it the preserve of computer scientists in research labs, plugging together printed circuit boards and writing new flavours of parallel operating systems. HPC is a stable, mature technology, an enabling technology for an ever increasing number of scientists and researchers wishing to build and run computational models in their own particular disciplines. HPC has finally delivered on its promises.Here we take a look at the current state of high performance computing from the perspective of the European user community, and assess the needs and aspirations of this community in terms of where HPC might be going, and where, perhaps, it should be going.

We aim to capture a snapshot of HPC activities, from the technology itself through related services to the direct views of its European user base, and attempt to draw the whole together into some form of roadmap for large scale computing in the twenty-first century.Quadrics Supercomputer World (QSW) offer a PCI-compatible high-performance ``fat tree'' interconnect based on the original Meiko Computing Surface network. Called QsNet and built from QSW's Elan III network chips and Elite III switch chips, it offers some of the highest performance currently available in cluster networking systems..The QsNet network is currently used inside the UltraSPARC-II-based QM-1, and QSW plans to produce systems in partnership with Compaq in the third quarter of 1999; the first of these will be the Compaq ``Sierra''.

It is as yet unclear whether QSW intend to make the QsNet technology available as an ``off-the-shelf'' networking product QsNet consists of two hardware building blocks: a programmable network interface called Elan and a high-bandwidth, low-latency communication switch called Elite. Elite switches can be interconnected in a fat-tree topology. With respect to software, QsNet provides several layers of communication libraries that trade off between performance and ease of use. QsNet combines these hardware and software components to implement efficient and protected access to a global virtual memory via remote direct memory access (DMA) operations.

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