Low-Latency Communication over ATM Networks using Active Messages
Von Eicken, Thorsten; Avula, Veena; Basu, Anindya; Buch, Vineet
Recent developments in communication architectures for parallel machines have made significant progress and reduced the communication overheads and latencies by over an order of magnitude as compared to earlier proposals. This paper examines whether these techniques can carry over to clusters of workstations connected by an ATM network even though clusters use standard operating system software, are equipped with network interfaces optimized for stream communication, do not allow direct protected user-level access to the network, and use networks without reliable transmission or flow control. In a first part, this paper describes the differences in communication characteristics between clusters of workstations built from standard hardware and software components and state-of-the-art multiprocessors. The lack of flow control and of operating system coordination affects the communication layer design significantly and requires larger buffers at each end than on multiprocessors. A second part evaluates a prototype implementation of the low-latency Active Messages communication model on a Sun workstation cluster interconnected by an ATM network. Measurements show application-to-application latencies of about 20 microseconds for small messages which is roughly comparable to the Active Messages implementation on the Thinking Machines CM-5 multiprocessor.
computer science; technical report
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