IBTA Plugfests

Software Forge has worked with many companies leading the way in RDMA technology such as industry leaders Mellanox Technologies and Intel Corporation.

InfiniBand® and RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) technologies have made major advances over the last 15 years, moving from 40 Gb/s to 200 Gb/s with the new HDR technology.

Since the inception of the Plugfest program in 2002 Software Forge has worked closely with test equipment vendors such as Anritsu, Keysight, Molex, Tektronix and Wilder to design and constantly improve testing methodologies and supporting hardware.

Software Forge works in concert with all aspects of the RDMA community from the OpenFabrics Alliance who maintain the open source RDMA software stack, the InfiniBand® Trade Association (IBTA) which defines the InfiniBand® and RoCE specifications and to the end users who rely on the third party independent verification of these products. The end result of this verification are the InfiniBand® Integrators’ and RoCE Interoperability Lists.

The Plugfest is about more than just testing products and compiling results. Software Forge is able to work with vendors to understand and resolve many product issues using the multiple testing methods we have developed and our years of experience in the field.

Plugfest events are held at the 4,200 square foot group test facility at the UNH InterOperability Laboratory.

Plugfest History

The original SDR protocol testing began with the Agilent (now Keysight) based protocol generator and CATC (now Teledyne-Lecroy) analyzer and TDR physical layer testing developed by Tektronix. We added Interoperability testing and included new testing methodology when the InfiniBand® speeds increased from 10 Gb/s (SDR) to 40 Gb/s (QDR). When 56 Gb/s (FDR) products were released, we added Active Time Domain (ATD) and Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) testing.

The original VNA test equipment was only able to test one of the lanes in a QSFP cable. We are able to test all eight lanes now that Keysight has made the 32 port VNA available to the IBTA Plugfest. This resulted in a significant increase in file size from 1.5 MB to ~ 150 MB and made the post processing time and complexity very time consuming. Software Forge developed a MATLAB compliance tool that allowed us to break the s32p files into s4p files for all 8 lanes and process all the S-Parameters in real time right after the measurement was taken. The time to do this went from hours to minutes per cable. The MATLAB code produces a table of results along with plots of all of the S-Parameters.

We have recently added the IEEE Channel Operating Margin (COM) testing methodology. This was necessitated by the inclusion of the InfiniBand® HDR products and our expansion into RoCE testing. RoCE forms the backbone of many hyperscale deployments in Enterprise Data Centers (EDC) used by companies such as Amazon, Dell, HP, Facebook and Microsoft.

Software Forge has also developed a Compliance Test Suite (CTS) to replace the aging Agilent TCL scripts. CTS is a flexible, modular application and framework which provides the functionality for the development and execution of compliance tests. While the current implementation supports developing and running the IBTA protocol tests, the tool has built-in flexibility to allow developers to write and execute a variety of compliance tests, such as Ethernet protocol tests.