Pieces of software: Xen Infiniband support

– Xen-IB project: IB support even in domU, many features
– work mostly completed in 2005/2006 outside of normal tree
– presented at XenSummit 2006
– never commited back because some last cleaning was needed?
– users settled on just asking for RDMA support in failover – would probably reduce the 60-600ms failover gap down to <1ms with good design
– 10-40 times higher than GigE bandwidth and no IP overhead would mean another performance boost
– RDMA support has been the most mentioned item on the Xen4 wishlist
– went COMPLETELY ignored

The poster inĀ this list post summed it up quite well – from a higher point of view such a beautiful option got wasted…:

“imagine a small motherboard with just a good IB interface and 100MB ethernet
(for managing, not SAN/LAN), no disks, in a blade chassis, running Xen….
wouldn’t that be just great?”

I think what we have here (in the mssing IB support, not in the above quote) is a failure of seeing the big picture.

  • 40gbits QDR Infiniband – fully redundant, unlike ethernet
  • Let me do the math: thats 5GB/s IO rate…
  • No need for local storage
  • More space for Ram -> better cost efficiency
  • move on to distributed storage -> more widespread use of grid/cloud setups

Well, and Xen started off as a grid computing project, right?

This is kinda what Cisco has come up now with with their special mucho-RAM-servers VMWare+Datacenter Ethernet(DCE) bundles.

Just that we were there first. Better. Faster. Leaner. Cheaper.
And we made nothing of it.

We’ve got a history of not picking up on 3rd party additions and letting even down the most important ones, until they’re so outdated they won’t merge any more, but even ignoring (forgetting about?) the user wishlist is saddening.

The community manager Stephen Spector even forwarded my email asking about IB support and the user wishlist to a developer in charge a few weeks ago.

Guess what – got no reply.


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