HP ProLiant Servers AIS : Server Chipsets (part 2) - Parallel I/O Buses, Highly Parallel System Architecture

10/11/2012 3:24:08 AM

5. Parallel I/O Buses

The bottleneck now shifted to I/O access and I/O bus speed. Multiple I/O devices in a server were located on one bus and were limited to one bus speed.

This limitation was solved by adding dual-peer and triple-peer I/O buses. This design was possible by adding more I/O controllers called bridges, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. Parallel I/O bus architecture.

With this design, peripherals on any bus have independent access to the processors and memory. This design also allows I/O buses to operate at different speeds, separating the slow I/O from faster I/O. Buffers in the bridges allow I/O transfers to queue, reducing latency.

The key benefits of this design included the following:

  • Twice the I/O bandwidth of single-bus systems—267MB/s (533MB/s) compared to 133MB/s (267MB/s)

  • Support for more PCI devices than single-bus systems

  • Balance of I/O workload and performance by placing high-usage peripherals (such as the graphics controller and disk controller) on separate buses

6. Highly Parallel System Architecture

Peer I/O buses moved the bottleneck from the I/O subsystem back to the memory controller. Dual memory controllers were the next step in chipset evolution. This system architecture design was called the Highly Parallel System Architecture (HPSA), and is shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6. Highly Parallel System Architecture.

This architecture also featured dual peer PCI buses. HP co-developed this powerful technology with ServerWorks and was the first to bring it to market.

HPSA servers employing dual memory controllers processed memory requests in parallel, enabling memory bandwidth to achieve up to 1.6GB/s with 100MHz (2.12GB/s with 133MHz) SDRAM.

HPSA components include the following:

  • Assisted Gunning Transceiver Logic plus (AGTL+) bus

  • Intel Pentium II and III processors

  • Dual Wide-Ultra SCSI controllers

  • Dual-peer PCI buses

  • Dual memory controllers

  • Interleaved memory

7. Crossbar Switch

The next step in chipset evolution was to reduce the bottleneck at the memory I/O controllers by replacing the controllers with a crossbar switch, as illustrated in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Crossbar switch.

The crossbar switch has five ports: two to the memory subsystem, two to the processor subsystem, and one to the I/O subsystem.

Employing mainframe techniques, the crossbar switch enables each of the five main ports to transfer data at high speed to each of the other ports, allowing concurrent read/writes between processors, memory, and I/O. Although there are two physical system buses, the buses present one system image logically to the operating system.
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