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XFabric: A Reconfigurable In-Rack Network for Rack-Scale Computers
Sergey Legtchenko, Nicholas Chen, Daniel Cletheroe, Antony Rowstron, Hugh Williams, and Xiaohan Zhao, Microsoft Research
Rack-scale computers are dense clusters with hundreds of micro-servers per rack. Designed for data center workloads, they can have significant power, cost and performance benefits over current racks. The rack network can be distributed, with small packet switches embedded on each processor as part of a system-on-chip (SoC) design. Ingress/egress traffic is forwarded by SoCs that have direct uplinks to the data center. Such fabrics are not fully provisioned and the chosen topology and uplink placement impacts performance for different workloads.
XFabric is a rack-scale network that reconfigures the topology and uplink placement using a circuit-switched physical layer over which SoCs perform packet switching. To satisfy tight power and space requirements in the rack, XFabric does not use a single large circuit switch, instead relying on a set of independent smaller circuit switches. This introduces partial reconfigurability, as some ports in the rack cannot be connected by a circuit. XFabric optimizes the physical topology and manages uplinks, efficiently coping with partial reconfigurability. It significantly outperforms static topologies and has a performance similar to fully reconfigurable fabrics. We demonstrate the benefits of XFabric using flow-based simulations and a prototype built with electrical crosspoint switch ASICs.
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