Mellanox Technologies Inc. 2900 Stender Way, Santa Clara, CA 95054 Tel: 408-970-3400 Fax: 408-970-3403 www.mellanox.com 1White PaperDocument Number2008WPMellanox Technologies IncRev 1.10InfiniBand and TCP in the Data Center1.0 PrefaceThe InfiniBand Architecture is designed to allow streamlined operation of enterprise and internet data centers by creating a fabric that allows low latency, high bandwidth clustering, communica-tion and storage traffic. The TCP protocol stack is ubiquitous as the Internet and is vital to the continued success of LANs, MANs, WANs and the Internet worldwide. While ideal for WAN and LAN applications, TCP imposes serious operating penalties when used within a controlled envi-ronment such as today’s Internet and enterprise data centers. This paper explores TCP limitations and discusses how they can be seamlessly overcome by exploiting the low latency hardware transport of InfiniBand to facilitate creation of N-Tier data centers. 2.0 What is an “N-Tier” Data Center?Data centers are frequently described as having a ‘3-tier architecture’ with little or no explanation of what this really means. A 3-tier architecture is basically an extension of a standard client-server (two-tier) architecture which introduces a set of applications servers between the client and the backend database servers. This middle tier of applications servers provides the data center with the ability to track users and insures the reliability of transactions, even in the presence of equip-ment and software process failures. This basic 3-tier architecture can be extended to what is called an ‘n-tier’ structure by partitioning the infrastructure to separate independent components. This modularity provides better performance, security, scalability, and provides support for heteroge-neous hardware and database environments. In addition, n-tier architectures are able to improve reliability, availability, and serviceability versus a simple two-tier architecture.3.0 Transport Performance within the N-Tier Data Center3.1 TCP Performance has not Kept Pace with Data Center RequirementsThe benefits of an n-tier architecture do not come for free. First of all, each tier of the data center requires additional equipment, software, and creates complexity due to the larger number of units. The TCP protocol suite is designed to provide an end to end connection between the client and the ultimate server responding to client requests. However, inherent limitations in the IPV4 address
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