IBM PureSystems: It’s all about the network Part II (Electric Boogaloo)
In Part I of this post, we looked more closely at the networking under the covers of an IBM PureScale system. We found that a reasonably configured PureSystems solution could comfortably support a whole lot of VMs in the space of only a few racks (no, I’m not going to repeat the numbers here; check out my last post for more details). I also promised to explain why networking would drive the next big innovations on this platform.
This dense packing of compute power is exactly why the network will be so important to the future of this system. Before PureSystems, large amounts of servers and storage would have to be spread out across the data center; network latency and physical distance would ultimately limit performance. Now that multi-core processors, advanced storage technology, and other features have made it possible to fit this much processing power into a few racks, we can take full advantage of Ethernet running up to 40 Gbit/s and Fibre Channel running up to 16 Gbit/s to realize very high bandwidth and low latency over short distances.
Now, imagine what happens in a few years as these trends continue. When the network can run 100 Gbit/second or faster, it becomes the highest speed interconnect on the platform. We’ll be able to interconnect more processors (each of which will also be more powerful than they are today and will host more VMs), with negligible performance impact due to the network. Multi-processor systems on the order of several thousand physical processors could become economically viable for many users, not just the most advanced applications.
At the same time, storage is integral to PureSystems, not a separate add-on from another company. In the future, server to storage access technologies previously reserved only for high performance computing can begin to trickle down into more commercial integrated platforms. And future integrated systems, enabled by the network, could then reach levels of parallelism and performance far beyond what we know today; think of how video games have brought the equivalent of a graphic supercomputer into your living room at very low cost. With latency between servers and storage becoming a non-issue, these systems would be ideal for processing the type of gigantic data sets which are showing up in financial, health care, retail, transportation, and a host of other fields. All of this stems from the PureSystems being rolled out now, so you get not only the immediate benefits of this platform but a path forward into even more powerful computing applications as time goes on.
Of course, when this happens everyone will marvel at the incredible advances in multi-core processors, multi-thread software, and other fields. But let’s not forget the standards-based, high bandwidth, physical and virtual networks under the covers of these systems that will quietly be doing their part to revolutionize computing, yet again.
What do you think the future of networks, or video games for that matter? Share your comments below, or respond to my Twitter feed