Transforming the Economics of HPC Fabrics with Intel® OPA

Executive Summary

Today’s rapid advances in processor and storage performance provide new opportunities for every organization that relies on high performance computing (HPC). Yet an HPC cluster is only as powerful as its weakest link. Compute, storage, and networking resources must be balanced to avoid bottlenecks that bring down the capability of the entire cluster. Intel® Omni-Path Architecture (Intel® OPA), a building block of Intel® Scalable System Framework (Intel® SSF), answers this challenge by providing a major leap forward in fabric performance, scalability, and cost-efficiency.

Intel OPA builds on the proven advances provided by Intel® True Scale Fabric, increasing link bandwidth and integrating new open source and Aries* fabric technologies. Optimized protocols provide low latency that stays low even at extreme scale. The optimizations also provide fast and efficient file system throughput, high packet reliability, and low deterministic latency for high priority communications. Advanced traffic shaping features extend these advantages to deliver even higher levels of performance, scalability, and resiliency.

Perhaps most importantly, Intel OPA offers scalability and cost advantages that will increase with every new Intel®-based platform generation. Today’s family of 24- and 48-port edge switches and 192- and 768-port director-class switches are based on new 48-port switch silicon. These high port densities can reduce infrastructure requirements compared with leading InfiniBand* solutions.

Next-generation Intel® Xeon Phi™ processors and select Intel® Xeon® processors will include integrated Intel OPA controllers to eliminate the need for separate host channel adapters (HCAs). Future Intel-based platform generations will feature even tighter integration, providing an increasingly efficient foundation for continuing improvements in bandwidth, latency, and cost models.

This white paper provides a high-level overview of Intel OPA, and identifies the key features and end-to-end product offerings that make it a superior HPC fabric at every scale.