A General-Purpose API for iWARP and InfiniBand

Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) allows data to be transferred over a network directly from the memory of one computer to the memory of another computer without CPU intervention. There are two major types of RDMA hardware on the market today: InfiniBand, and RDMA over IP, also known as iWARP. This hardware is supported by open software that was developed by the OpenFabrics Alliance (OFA) and that is known as
the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) stack. This stack provides a common interface to both types of RDMA hardware, but does not itself provide a general-purpose API that would be convenient to most network programmers. Rather, it supplies the tools by which such APIs can be constructed.
The Extended Sockets API (ES-API) is a specification published by the Open Group that defines extensions to the traditional socket API which include two major new features necessary to exploit the advantages of RDMA hardware and the OFED stack: asynchronous I/O and memory registration.

The UNH-EXS interface is a multi-threaded implementation of the ES-API plus additional extensions, which enables programmers to utilize RDMA hardware via the OFED stack in a convenient, relatively familiar manner. The UNH-EXS interface is implemented entirely in user space on the Linux operating system. This provides easy porting, modification and adoption of UNH-EXS, since it requires no changes to existing Linux kernels. We present results on the performance of some benchmark applications using the UNH-EXS interface on both iWARP and InfiniBand hardware.

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Dr. Robert Russell
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The First Workshop on Data Center Converged and Virtual Etherent Switching (DC-CAVES 2009)