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As applications scale to increasingly large processor counts, the interconnection network is frequently the limiting factor in application performance. In order to achieve application scalability, the interconnect must maintain high bandwidth while minimizing variation in packet latency. As the offered load in the network increases with growing problem sizes and processor counts, so does the expected maximum packet latency in the network, directly impacting performance of applications with any synchronized communication. Age-based packet arbitration reduces the variance in packet latency as well as average latency. This paper describes the Cray XT router packet aging algorithm which allows globally fair arbitration by incorporating "age" in the packet output arbitration. We describe the parameters of the aging algorithm and how to arrive at appropriate settings. We show that an efficient aging algorithm reduces both the average packet latency and the variance in packet latency on communication-intensive benchmarks.
Date of Conference: 10-16 Nov. 2007