Principles and Practices of Interconnection Networks Home Page

About the book


About The Book

Digital electronic systems of all types are rapidly becoming commmunication limited. Movement of data, not arithmetic or control logic, is the factor limiting cost, performance, size, and power in these systems. At the same time, buses, long the mainstay of system interconnect, are unable to keep up with increasing performance requirements.

Interconnection networks offer an attractive solution to this communication crisis and are becoming pervasive in digital systems. A well-designed interconnection network makes efficient use of scarce communication resources providing highbandwidth, low-latency communication between clients with a minimum of cost and energy.

Historically used only in high-end supercomputers and telecom switches, interconnection networks are now found in digital systems of all sizes and all types. They are used in systems ranging from large supercomputers to small embedded systems-on-a-chip (SoC) and in applications including inter-processor communication, processor-memory interconnect, input/output and storage switches, router fabrics, and to replace dedicated wiring.

Indeed, as system complexity and integration continues to increase,many designers are finding it more efficient to route packets, not wires. Using an interconnection network rather than dedicated wiring allows scarce bandwidth to be shared so it can be used ef.ciently with a high duty factor. In contrast, dedicated wiring is idle much of the time. Using a network also enforces regular, structured use of communication resources, making systems easier to design, debug, and optimize.

The basic principles of interconnection networks are relatively simple and it is easy to design an interconnection network that efficiently meets all of the requirements of a given application. Unfortunately, if the basic principles are not understood it is also easy to design an interconnection network that works poorly if at all. Experienced engineers have designed networks that have deadlocked, that have performance bottlenecks due to a poor topology choice or routing algorithm, and that realize only a tiny fraction of their peak performance because of poor flow control. These mistakes would have been easy to avoid if the designers had understood a few simple principles.

This book draws on the experience of the authors in designing interconnection networks over a period of more than twenty years.We have designed tens of networks that today form the backbone of high-performance computers (both message-passing and shared-memory), Internet routers, telecom circuit switches, and I/O interconnect. These systems have been designed around a variety of topologies including crossbars, tori, Clos networks, and butterflies. We developed wormhole routing and virtual-channel flow control. In designing these systems and developing these methods we learned many lessons about what works and what doesn't. In this book, we share with you, the reader, the bene.t of this experience in the form of a set of simple principles for interconnection network design based on topology, routing, flow control, and router architecture.


The original version of the simulator used in the book along with documentation are available here. An updated and improved version is maintained here.