Comparing the Performance of Blue Gene/Q with Leading Cray XE6 and InfiniBand Systems

Kerbyson, Darren J. Barker, Kevin J. ; Vishnu, Abhinav ; Hoisie, Adolfy
Name of Publication: 
IEEE 18th International Conference on Parallel and Distributed Systems (ICPADS), 2012
Type of Publication: 
Conference Proceedings
Three types of systems dominate the current High Performance Computing landscape: the Cray XE6, the IBM Blue Gene, and commodity clusters using InfiniBand. These systems have quite different characteristics making the choice for a particular deployment difficult. The XE6 uses Cray's proprietary Gemini 3-D torus interconnect with two nodes at each network endpoint. The latest IBM Blue Gene/Q uses a single socket integrating processor and communication in a 5-D torus network. InfiniBand provides the flexibility of using nodes from many vendors connected in many possible topologies. The performance characteristics of each vary vastly along with their utilization model. In this work we compare the performance of these three systems using a combination of micro-benchmarks and a set of production applications. We also discuss the causes of variability in performance across the systems and quantify where performance is lost using a combination of measurements and models. Our results show that significant performance can be lost in normal production operation of the Cray XE6 and InfiniBand Clusters in comparison to Blue Gene/Q.
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Published Date: 
December, 2012