Saturday, August 22, 2015

Flux High-Speed Data Transfer Service

Do you have a large data set on your own storage equipment that you would like to process on Flux? We can accommodate up to 40 gigabits per second of data transfer in and out of Flux via the campus Ethernet backbone. There is no additional cost to use this service, but you do need to contact us in order to set it up.

By default, network traffic between Flux compute nodes and other systems on campus takes place over standard one gigabit Ethernet connections. This is sufficient for modest amounts of traffic such as that generated by administrative tasks, monitoring, and home directory access.

Traffic between Flux and its high-speed /scratch filesystem runs over a separate 40 gigabit per second InfiniBand network within the datacenter, and data between Flux and off-campus systems on the Internet can be staged through our transfer server at up to 10 gigabits per second. This would seem to leave a gap though: what if you want direct high-speed connections between the Flux nodes and other systems on campus? We provide such connections using a Mellanox BX5020 InfiniBand/Ethernet gateway:

The Flux BX5020 Gateway

The gateway connects to the Flux InfiniBand network and to the campus Ethernet network and allows traffic to flow between the two networks. The InfiniBand network runs at 40 gigabits per second, and the gateway has four 10 gigabit links to the campus Ethernet network. This allows any Flux node to communicate with any system on campus at up to 40 gbit/s.

We have a customer that has multiple petabytes of data on their own storage equipment which they have been using Flux to process. We mount this customer's NFS servers on Flux and route the traffic through the gateway. The customer is currently running jobs on Flux against two of their 10-gigabit connected servers, and last weekend they reached a sustained data transfer rate into Flux of 14.3 gigabits per second.

Gateway traffic for the week of 8/11/2015 - 8/18/2015
Although we have pushed more than 14 gbit/s through the gateway during testing, this is a new record for production traffic through the system.

Our gateway is currently connected to the Ethernet network at 40 gigabits per second, but it can be readily expanded to 80 and possibly 120 gigabits per second as needed. Additionally, we plan to replace the existing gateway in the near future with newer equipment. The planned initial bandwidth for the new equipment is 160 gbit/s, and there is room for growth even beyond that.

No changes to your network configuration are needed to use the gateway; those changes take place on our end only. All you have to do is export your storage to our IP ranges. If you want to discuss or get set up for this service, please let us know! Our email address is and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.

If you are are interested in the technical details of how the gateway works, this presentation from Mellanox on the Ethernet over InfiniBand (EoIB) technology used by the system should prove informative. There is no need to know anything about EoIB in order to use the service; the link is provided strictly for the curious.