An FPGA-based Simulator for Datacenter Networks

TitleAn FPGA-based Simulator for Datacenter Networks
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsTan, Z., Asanović K., & Patterson D.
Conference NameThe Exascale Evaluation and Research Techniques Workshop (EXERT 2010), at the 15th International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems (ASPLOS 2010)
Date Published03/2010
Conference LocationPittsburgh, PA

We describe an FPGA-based datacenter network simulator
for researchers to rapidly experiment with O(10,000) node
datacenter network architectures. Our simulation approach
configures the FPGA hardware to implement abstract mod-
els of key datacenter building blocks, including all levels of
switches and servers. We model servers using a complete
SPARC v8 ISA implementation, enabling each node to run
real node software, such as LAMP and Hadoop. Our ini-
tial implementation simulates a 64-server system and has
successfully reproduced the TCP incast throughput collapse
problem. When running a modern parallel benchmark, sim-
ulation performance is two-orders of magnitude faster than
a popular full-system software simulator. We plan to scale
up our testbed to run on multiple BEE3 FPGA boards,
where each board is capable of simulating 1500 servers with

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