Mellanox Software 3D Hackathon

Hackathon Pic1After the overwhelming success of Hackathon 2014 this past January, Mellanox Israel now presents 3D Hackathon:  Develop, Debug, Deploy. This contest is designed to encourage innovation and teamwork, while introducing new 3D software technologies and features in a very quick turnaround time.


Mellanox Israel employees were invited to submit proposals for new software projects related to existing Mellanox technologies and to form a team of up to 3 people to develop a proposal. More than 20 unique software proposals were submitted.  The steering committee evaluated and selected 16 proposals for consideration into the final competition.  The top 3 teams were awarded prizes.  All teams were asked to present working demos.

Continue reading

Introduction to InfiniBand

InfiniBand is a network communications protocol that offers a switch-based fabric of point-to-point bi-directional serial links between processor nodes, as well as between processor nodes and input/output nodes, such as disks or storage. Every link has exactly one device connected to each end of the link, such that the characteristics controlling the transmission (sending and receiving) at each end are well defined and controlled.


InfiniBand creates a private, protected channel directly between the nodes via switches, and facilitates data and message movement without CPU involvement with Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) and Send/Receive offloads that are managed and performed by InfiniBand adapters. The adapters are connected on one end to the CPU over a PCI Express interface and to the InfiniBand subnet through InfiniBand network ports on the other. This provides distinct advantages over other network communications protocols, including higher bandwidth, lower latency, and enhanced scalability.

Figure 1: Basic InfiniBand Structure
Figure 1: Basic InfiniBand Structure

Continue reading

Dell Announces 13th Generation PowerEdge Servers

Dell announced the next generation of PowerEdge servers along with a future vision that includes continued focus on application performance along with new Near Field Communications (NFC) systems management monitoring for servers along with continued support for software-defined storage.  We are pleased to see this new Dell PowerEdge server line and the inclusion of our 10/40GbE NICs.

PowerEdge 13G Server Family
As big data analytics become more in demand by enterprise, organizations need to be able to sort and analyze vast amounts of data to guide business decisions. Large companies using ERP solutions require intensive I/O bandwidth to process multiple transactions.  Using the latest processors, enhanced in-server Flash storage and Mellanox 10Gb Ethernet NICs to process more in less time, the Dell family of PowerEdge servers will enable a more seamless ERP experience.

Last but not least, the new in-server storage technology allows customers to accelerate the most important data by offering high performance with NVMe Express Flash storage and deployment of Dell Fluid Cache for SAN. This technology is also ideal for high IOPS requirements in VDI environments with thousands of high performance users, while optimizing your cost per virtual desktop. – Nicolas Cuendent, Dell, September 8, 2014

Available now from Dell, Mellanox’s ConnectX-3 Pro (PEC620) and ConnectX-3 10/40GbE NICs with RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) and overlay network offloads offer optimized application latency and performance while maintaining extremely low system power consumption.


Road to 100Gb/sec…Innovation Required! (Part 3 of 3)

Physical Layer Innovation: Silicon Photonics

So in two previous posts, I discussed the innovations required at the transport, network, and link layer of the communications protocol stack to take advantage of 100Gb/s networks . Let’s now talk about the physical layer. A 100Gb/sec signaling rate implies a 10ps symbol period.

Frankly, this is just not possible on a commercial basis with current technology. Neither is it possible on copper nor on optical interfaces. At this rate the electrical and optical pules just can’t travel any useful distance without smearing into each other and getting corrupted.

So there are two possible solutions.  The first is to use 4 parallel connections each running @25Gb/sec. The second is to use a single channel with a 25Gb/sec symbol rate but to send four bits per symbol. This can be done either through techniques like Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM4) or optically by sending four different colors of light on a single fiber using Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) techniques. Continue reading

Recap: VMworld 2014 – San Francisco, CA

It was a busy time last week in San Francisco!  During VMworld 2014, we announced a collaboration with VMware and Micron to enable highly efficient deployments of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. The VDI deployment will be a combination of Mellanox’s 10GbE interconnect, VMware’s Virtual SAN (VSAN) and Micron’s SSDs.  The joint solution creates a scalable infrastructure while minimizing the cost per virtual desktop user. The new solution will consist of three servers running VMware vSphere and Virtual SAN each with one Mellanox ConnectX-3 10GbE NIC, two Micron 1.4TB P420m PCIe SSDs and six HDDs.


vmworld14 booth presentation2

Continue reading

Road to 100Gb/sec…Innovation Required! (Part 2 of 3)

Network and Link Layer Innovation: Lossless Networks

In a previous post, I discussed that innovations are required to take advantage of 100Gb/s at every layer of the communications protocol stack networks – starting off with the need for  RDMA at the transport layer. So now let’s look at the requirements at the next two layers of the protocol stack. It turns out that RDMA transport requires innovation at the Network and Link layers in order to provide a lossless infrastructure.

‘Lossless’ in this context does not mean that the network can never lose a packet, as some level of noise and data corruption is unavoidable. Rather by ‘lossless’ we mean a network that is designed such that it avoids intentional, systematic packet loss as a means of signaling congestion. That is packet loss is the exception rather than the rule.

Priority Flow Control is similar to a traffic light and enables lossless networks
Priority Flow Control is similar to a traffic light and enables lossless networks

Lossless networks  can be achieved by using priority flow control at the link layer which allows packets to be forwarded only if there is buffer space available in the receiving device. In this way buffer overflow and packet loss is avoided and the network becomes lossless.

In the Ethernet world, this is standardized as 802.1 QBB Priority Flow Control (PFC) and is equivalent to putting stop lights at each intersection. A packet on a given priority class can only be forwarded when the light is green.

Continue reading

Road to 100Gb/sec…Innovation Required! (Part 1 of 3)

Transport Layer Innovation: RDMA

During my undergraduate days at UC Berkeley in the 1980’s, I remember climbing through the attic of Cory Hall running 10Mbit/sec coaxial cables to professors’ offices. Man, that 10base2 coax was fast!! Here we are in 2014 right on the verge of 100Gbit/sec networks. Four orders of magnitude increase in bandwidth is no small engineering feat, and achieving 100Gb/s network communications requires innovation at every level of the seven layer OSI model.

To tell you the truth, I never really understood the top three layers of this OSI model: I prefer the TCP/IP model which collapses all of them into a single “Application” layer which makes more sense. Unfortunately, it also collapses the Link layer and the Physical layer and I actually don’t think this makes sense to combine these two.  I like to build my own ‘hybrid’ model that collapses the top three layers into an Application layer but allows you to consider the Link and Physical layers separately.

Kevin D Blog 081814 Fig1

It turns out that a tremendous amount of innovation is required in these bottom four layers to achieve effective 100Gb/s communications networks. The application layer needs to change as well to fully take advantage of 100Gb/s networks.   For now we’ll focus on the bottom four layers. Continue reading

The Benefits of Leaning Into the Big Data

Guest post by Alex Henthorn-Iwane, QualiSystems

Big data is for real, but its places heavy demands on IT teams, who have to pull together and provision cloud infrastructure, then offer big data application deployments with validated performance to meet pressing business decision timelines.  QualiSystems is partnering with Mellanox to simplify big data deployments over any cloud infrastructure, enabling IT teams to meet line of business needs while reducing operational costs.

Quali Systems cutcaster-903282828-Big-data-small

Continue reading