A Case for Uni-directional Network Topologies in Large-Scale Clusters

Michihiro Koibuchi, Tomohiro Totoki, Hiroki Matsutani, Hideharu Amano, Fabien Chaix, Ikki Fujiwara, Henri Casanova

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Citations (Scopus)


Designing low-latency network topologies of switches is a key objective for next-generation large-scale clusters. Low latency is preconditioned on low hop counts, but existing network topologies have hop counts much larger than theoretical lower bounds. To alleviate this problem, we propose building network topologies based on uni-directional graphs that are known to have hop counts close to theoretical lower bounds. A practical difficulty with uni-directional topologies is switch-by-switch flow control, which we resolve by using hot-potato routing. Cycle-Accurate network simulation experiments for various traffic patterns on uni-directional topologies show that hot-potato routing achieves performance comparable to that of conventional deadlock-free routing. Similar experiments are used to compare several uni-directional topologies to bi-directional topologies, showing that the former achieve significantly lower latency and higher throughput. We quantify end-To-end application performance for parallel application benchmarks via discrete-even simulation, showing that uni-directional topologies can lead to large application performance improvements over their bi-directional counterparts. Finally, we discuss practical issues for uni-directional topologies such as cabling complexity and cost, power consumption, and soft-error tolerance. Our results make a compelling case for considering uni-directional topologies for upcoming large-scale clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2017 IEEE International Conference on Cluster Computing, CLUSTER 2017
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781538623268
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Sept 22
Event2017 IEEE International Conference on Cluster Computing, CLUSTER 2017 - Honolulu, United States
Duration: 2017 Sept 52017 Sept 8

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Cluster Computing, ICCC
ISSN (Print)1552-5244


Other2017 IEEE International Conference on Cluster Computing, CLUSTER 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • HPC clusters
  • Hot-potato routing
  • Interconnection networks
  • Uni-directional network topologies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Signal Processing


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