so where is the cheap optical NIC
Intel announced it was working on 3 years ago ? Not that those of us out of CBDs would ever need one. Big Swamps wet string suffices.
It's no surprise when Intel announces a new processor architecture – that's its main game, after all. However, along with the Knight's Bridge chips released at SC'14, the company seems to have declared war on the HPC mainstream, announcing an optical comms architecture designed to compete with InfiniBand. The Omni-Path …
A couple of days before the announcement an Intel developer posted some patches to the linux-rdma mailing list in support of the Intel Omni Path Architecture (apparently referred to as OPA within Intel). The patches update some of the handling of MAD (MAnagement Datagrams) used for fabric management and adds, for example, a new type of bigger "jumbo" management datagrams.
If OPA uses the same basic message types (and acronyms) as IB, it is quite clear that OPA is based on the Infiniband protocol. Different physical interconnect. Some changes and extensions to higher level components like subnet management. But basically still IB underneath.
In a decade and a half Infiniband has not made much headway out of the HPC camp and into the data center where Ethernet is king. RoCE is one attempt to bring the gospel of RDMA to these lands but Intel is backing another (iWARP).
OPA is currently targeted at HPC clients as a "better Infiniband". It may or may not be a part of some grand plan for a converged network.
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