Theses Doctoral

Photonic Interconnects Beyond High Bandwidth

Wen, Ke

The extraordinary growth of parallelism in high-performance computing requires efficient data communication for scaling compute performance. High-performance computing systems have been using photonic links for communication of large bandwidth-distance product during the last decade. Photonic interconnection networks, however, should not be a wire-for-wire replacement based on conventional electrical counterparts. Features of photonics beyond high bandwidth, such as transparent bandwidth steering, can implement important functionalities needed by applications. In another aspect, application characteristics can be exploited to design better photonic interconnects. Therefore, this thesis explores codesign opportunities at the intersection between photonic interconnect architectures and high-performance computing applications. The key accomplishments of this thesis, ranging from system level to node level, are as follows.
Chapter 2 presents a system-level architecture that leverages photonic switching to enable a reconfigurable interconnect. The architecture, called Flexfly, reconfigures the inter-group level of the widely-used Dragonfly topology using information about the application’s communication pattern. It can steal additional direct bandwidth for communication-intensive group pairs. Simulations with applications such as GTC, Nekbone and LULESH show up to 1.8x speedup over Dragonfly paired with UGAL routing, along with halved hop count and latency for cross-group messages. To demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach, we built a 32-node Flexfly prototype using a silicon photonic switch connecting four groups and demonstrated 820 ns interconnect reconfiguration time. This is the first demonstration of silicon photonic switching and bandwidth steering in a high-performance computing cluster.
Chapter 3 extends photonic switching to the node level and presents a reconfigurable silicon photonic memory interconnect for many-core architectures. The interconnect targets at important memory access issues, such as network-on-chip hot-spots and non-uniform memory access. Integrated with the processor through 2.5D/3D stacking, a fast-tunable silicon photonic memory tunnel can transparently direct traffic from any off-chip memory to any on-chip interface – thus alleviating the hot-spot and non-uniform access effects. We demonstrated the operation of our proposed architecture using a tunable laser, a 4-port silicon photonic switch (four wavelength-routed memory channels) and a 4x4 mesh network-on-chip synthesized by FPGA. The emulated system achieves a 15-ns channel switching time. Simulations based on a 12-core 4-memory model show that for such switching speeds the interconnect system can realize a 2x speedup for the STREAM benchmark in the hot-spot scenario and a reduction of execution time for data-intensive applications such as 3D stencil and K-means clustering by 23% and 17%, respectively.
Chapters 4 explores application-level characteristics that can be exploited to hide photonic path setup delays. In view of the frequent reuse of optical circuits by many applications, we proposed a circuit-cached scheme that amortizes the setup overhead by maximizing circuit reuses. In order to improve circuit “hit” rates, we developed a reuse-distance based replacement policy called “Farthest Next Use”. We further investigated the tradeoffs between the realized hit rate and energy consumption. Finally, we experimentally demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed concept using silicon photonic devices in an FPGA-controlled network testbed.
Chapter 5 proceeds to develop an application-guided circuit-prefetch scheme. By learning temporal locality and communication patterns from upper-layer applications, the scheme not only caches a set of circuits for reuses, but also proactively prefetches circuits based on predictions. We applied this technique to communication patterns from a spectrum of science and engineering applications. The results show that setup delays via circuit misses are significantly reduced, showing how the proposed technique can improve circuit switching in photonic interconnects.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Electrical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Bergman, Keren
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 20, 2017