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Network technologies for cluster computing

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  1. Introduction
  2. Communication protocols
    1. Internet protocols
    2. Active messages
    3. Fast messages
    4. Standards for cluster communication
  3. Hardware products
    1. Ethernet, fast ethernet and gigabit ethernet
    2. Giganet (cLAN)
    3. Myrinet
    4. QsNet
    5. Scalable Coherent Interface (SCI)
    6. Asynchronous Transmission Mode
    7. Fiber channel
    8. Reflective memory
    9. Atomic low latency network
  4. Conclusions
  5. References

A broad and growing range of possibilities are available to designers of a cluster when choosing an interconnection technology. As the price of network hardware in a cluster can vary from almost free to several thousands of dollars per computing node, the decision is not a minor one in determining the overall price of the cluster. Many very effective clusters have been built from inexpensive products that are typically found in local area networks. However, some recent network products specifically designed for cluster communication have a price that is comparable to the cost of a workstation. The choice of network technology depends upon a number of factors, including price, performance, and compatibility with other cluster hardware and system software as well as communication characteristics of applications that will use the cluster.

[...] I/O attached message-based systems includes all commonly-used wide-area and local-area network technologies, and includes several recent products that are specifically designed for cluster computing. I/O attached shared storage systems include computers that share a common disk subsystem. Memory attached systems are less common, since the memory bus of an individual computer generally has a design that is unique to that type of computer. However, many memory-attached systems are implemented in software or with memory mapped such as Memory Channel [16]. [...]

[...] As Fiber Channel matures it may become more widely used as a general-purpose cluster interconnection technology HIPPI or HIgh Performance Parallel Interface, is a gigabit network that was first designed for interconnecting high-performance parallel computers with network attached storage devices. When the first 800Mbps HIPPI standard was developed in the late 1980's, it was considered revolutionary. The standard has gone through several versions and now bears the name Gigabit System Network (GSN). GSN is the highest bandwidth and lowest latency interconnect standard, providing full duplex transmission rates of 6400Mbps (800 Mbytes/s) in each direction. [...]

[...] U-net adds the concept of a virtual network interface for each connection in a user application. Just as an application has a virtual memory address space that is mapped to real physical memory on demand, each communication endpoint of the application is viewed as a virtual network interface mapped to a real set of network buffers and queues on demand. The advantage of this architecture is that once the mapping is defined, each active interface has direct access to the network without operating system intervention. [...]

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