Indico has been updated to v3.3. See our blog post for details on this release. (OTG0146394)

Oct 10 – 14, 2016
San Francisco Marriott Marquis
America/Los_Angeles timezone

High-Throughput Network Communication with NetIO

Oct 11, 2016, 2:15 PM
Sierra B (San Francisco Mariott Marquis)

Sierra B

San Francisco Mariott Marquis

Oral Track 6: Infrastructures Track 6: Infrastructures


Jorn Schumacher (University of Paderborn (DE))


HPC network technologies like Infiniband, TrueScale or OmniPath provide low-
latency and high-throughput communication between hosts, which makes them
attractive options for data-acquisition systems in large-scale high-energy
physics experiments. Like HPC networks, data acquisition networks are local
and include a well specified number of systems. Unfortunately traditional network
communication APIs for HPC clusters like MPI or PGAS exclusively target the HPC
community and are not well suited for data acquisition applications. It is possible
to build distributed data acquisition applications using low-level system APIs like
Infiniband Verbs, but it requires non negligible effort and expert knowledge.

On the other hand, message services like 0MQ have gained popularity in the HEP
community. Such APIs facilitate the building of distributed applications with a
high-level approach and provide good performance. Unfortunately their usage usually
limits developers to TCP/IP-based networks. While it is possible to operate a
TCP/IP stack on top of Infiniband and OmniPath, this approach may not be very
efficient compared to direct use of native APIs.

NetIO is a simple, novel asynchronous message service that can operate on
Ethernet, Infiniband and similar network fabrics. In our presentation we describe
the design and implementation of NetIO, evaluate its use in comparison to other
approaches and show performance studies.

NetIO supports different high-level programming models and typical workloads of
HEP applications. The ATLAS front end link exchange project successfully uses NetIO
as its central communication platform.

The NetIO architecture consists of two layers:

  • The outer layer provides users with a choice of several socket types for
    different message-based communication patterns. At the moment NetIO features a
    low-latency point-to-point send/receive socket pair, a high-throughput
    point-to-point send/receive socket pair, and a high-throughput
    publish/subscribe socket pair.

  • The inner layer is pluggable and provides a basic send/receive socket pair to
    the upper layer to provide a consistent, uniform API across different network

There are currently two working backends for NetIO:

  • The Ethernet backend is based on TCP/IP and POSIX sockets.

  • The Infiniband backend relies on libfabric with the Verbs provider from the
    OpenFabrics Interfaces Working Group.

The libfabric package also supports other fabric technologies like iWarp, Cisco
usNic, Cray GNI, Mellanox MXM and others. Via PSM and PSM2 it also natively
supports Intel TrueScale and Intel OmniPath. Since libfabric is already used for
the Infiniband backend, we do not foresee major challenges for porting NetIO to
OmniPath, and a native OmniPath backend is currently under development.

Primary Keyword (Mandatory) Network systems and solutions
Secondary Keyword (Optional) Distributed data handling
Tertiary Keyword (Optional) Computing middleware

Primary author

Jose Guillermo Panduro Vazquez (Royal Holloway, University of London)


Jorn Schumacher (University of Paderborn (DE))

Presentation materials