An Efficient Method for Stream Semantics over RDMA

Most network applications today are written to use TCP/IP via sockets. Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) is gaining popularity because its zero-copy, kernel-bypass features provide a high throughput, low latency reliable transport. Unlike TCP, which is a stream-oriented protocol, RDMA is a message-oriented protocol, and the OFA verbs library for writing RDMA application programs is more complex than the TCP sockets interface. UNH EXS is one of several libraries designed to give applications more convenient, high-level access to RDMA features. Recent work has shown that RDMA is viable both in the data center and over distance.

One potential bottleneck in libraries that use RDMA is the requirement to wait for message advertisements in order to send large zero-copy messages. By sending messages first to an internal, hidden buffer and copying the message later, latency can be reduced at the expense of higher CPU usage at the receiver. This paper presents a communication algorithm that has been implemented in the UNH EXS stream-oriented mode to allow dynamic switching between sending transfers directly to user memory and sending transfers indirectly via an internal, hidden buffer depending on the state of the sender and receiver. Based on preliminary results, we see that this algorithm performs well under a variety of application requirements.

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P. MacArthur and R. Russell
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Proceedings of the 28th IEEE International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS) 2014