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Monday 02 of October 2023 11:51:39 PM


9K App - Advanced Network Applications
Executive Summary

The High Performance Computing community has already demonstrated that the use of jumbo packets, IP packets exceeding 1500 bytes, offers an undeniable performance advantage (typically a factor of 2 at 1 Gbps and much more at higher rates), particularly when transferring large amounts of data. While the use of jumbo packets might seem a wizard's tuning trick, it represents a logical and immediately valuable benefit to grid computing. Further, it becomes a requirement for scalability as networks move to 10 Gbps and beyond. However, though the entire core and many of our GigaPoP networks are now jumbo enabled, very few of our campus networks support jumbo packets. We are creating the case, through performance analysis, for incrementally jumbo enabling research networks and in order to offer some insight into the different levels of performance benefit anticipated for distributed applications, such as collaborative visualization, massive data transfer, and distributed file systems. Concurrently we are also working closely with the academic community, in Canada, and the U.S., from the corporate perspective, to enhance awareness of subtle path MTU discovery issues.

Our initial pilot project phase one explores the effect of packet size variation, on key mission critical advanced network applications, for the HPC community. The primary test is to explore potential ability, to dynamically interact with visualizations, hosted on remote servers, as a function of packet dynamics, over a well characterized path. The test bed includes TCP transport across gigabit Ethernet sites, of increasing RTT, using SGI's Vizserver platform, on an Onyx 3000 server, with both SGI and Linux workstations running Vizserver clients. Preliminary tests indicate network performance in the order of 400 megabits per second, with significant potential for improvement. Further testing is required, in order to characterize the effect of modifying parameters, and identifying the hierarchy of bottlenecks, leading to effective optimization. Phase two preliminary testing is set to explore the packet dynamics of NFS version 4, as a function of packet size, and critical tuning parameters over TCP. Similarly we expect increased packet size may have a dramatic effect on performance. In a 2004 white paper SGI reports in the order of 25 megabytes per second over local gigabit Ethernet LAN, using optimized NFS, with an MTU of 1512 bytes. One of the key factors of NFS has been end node fragmentation and reassembly, which is severely detrimental to performance. We plan to demonstrate optimized NFS performance over 9000 byte MTU gigabit Ethernet WAN with a block size of 8192 bytes, leading to increased non fragmentation flow between hosts, and vastly improved throughput, possibly approaching local SAN over fibre channel. In addition, we will be looking at the effective utilization levels of both the network, and the end-hosts, to identify the relative contributions that each has on the overall apparent application performance.

The project team would like to acknowledge the generous participation and supporting infrastructure from BCNET, CANARIE, CA*net4, HEPnet Canada, IRMACS, Netera, Simon Fraser University, WestGrid, University of Alberta Subatomic Physics and University of Victoria Physics.


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