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Dolphin’s PCIe Gen 3 24-Port switch delivers new capabilities for composable architectures and PCIe Fabrics

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Dolphin Interconnect Solutions a provider of low latency, industry-standard PCIe adapter cards, scalable switches, and advanced PCI Express Software, has announced the launch of its high-end, Microsemi Switchtec-based MXS824 24-port PCIe scalable switch for I/O expansion and PCIe fabric. The switch is the latest addition to Dolphin’s expanding roster of PCIe products.

The MXS824 is the key lynchpin of Dolphin’s PCIe Fabric Architecture. PCIe fabrics can enable a variety of systems, including composable architectures, PCIe clusters, I/O expansion, and reflective memory systems based on PCI Express.

‘The MXS824 adds to Dolphin’s solution for composable architectures and provides new levels of flexibility,’ said Herman Paraison, VP Sales and Marketing at Dolphin Interconnect Systems. ‘The switch is targeted at clients looking to scale PCI Express. It enables them to scale up to larger clusters, build targeted applications, or add more devices to their PCIe environment.’

Composable architectures allow users to flexibly build systems on the fly. A wide variety of hardware can be added or removed from these systems as needed, such as NDMe drives, GPUs, processors, and FPGAs. Dolphin’s unique approach to building composable architectures is called device lending. Unlike other concepts for building composable architectures, device lending allows access to devices installed in servers as well as in expansion boxes or JBoFs.

This creates a pool of transparent I/O resources that can then be shared among computers without any application-specific distribution mechanisms or requiring any modifications to drivers. Just as importantly, the resources can easily be reallocated whenever required, allowing for extremely flexible and ever-changing distributions of resources.

The MXS824 is a key component in this environment for connecting a large number of systems and expansion boxes to a PCIe fabric. All of these devices can be integrated into the PCIe fabric and made available to systems, not just the devices attached to the switch via an expansion box. Thus, multiple servers connected in the fabric can borrow devices in connected servers, expansion boxes, or JBoFs.

With device lending, applications such as TensorFlow can allocate a large number of GPUs, significantly speeding application performance, and release them when a simulation is complete. This kind of flexibility can maximize limited resources and is highly useful for customers who consistently need to move workloads around to better utilize their very expensive resources, such as universities and laboratories.

The MXS824 is the high-end switching component in Dolphin’s new PCIe fabric implementation. It is supported in Dolphin’s latest version of eXpressWare software, the PCIe fabric software stack, and allows clients to build even larger topologies. The 24-port Microsemi PFX-based 1U cluster switch delivers 32 GT/s of non-blocking bandwidth per port at ultra-low latency. The switch supports various configurations where up to 4 ports can be combined into a single x16 / 128 GT/s port for higher bandwidth. Ports can be configured as 24 x4 ports, 12 x8 ports, 6 x16 ports, and various configurations of each. Multiple switches can be connected to create larger port counts. Each connection is fully compliant with PCI Express Gen1, Gen2, and Gen3 I/O specifications.

Beyond composable architectures, the MXS824 expands capabilities of PCI Express in markets like simulation, military, automotive, and financial services — industries that can take advantage of the new scaling capabilities and performance delivered by the switch. Applications such as scientific simulations, which use reflective memory and many nodes to acquire and distribute data, benefit from the expanded topologies and ultra-low latency.

Another key market for the MXS824 is testing and development. For customers seeking to prototype various system architectures based on PCI Express, the MXS824 can enable building topologies and development environments that mimic their end systems. These development environments can be used for software development and performance testing. The switch is also useful for customers connecting a large number of devices in production testing, as these devices can be connected to an external PC running test programs in production environments.

Visit Dolphin at booth 443 at SC18 in Dallas, Texas November 12–15 for a demo of how the MXS824 switch enables low-latency composable architecture.