[erlang-questions] replace inet_dist TCP in favour of Tilera UDN for speed

Patrik Nyblom pan@REDACTED
Fri Oct 19 17:42:38 CEST 2012

On 10/19/2012 04:43 PM, Motiejus Jakštys wrote:
> Hi,
> I am intending to run 59 Erlang VMs on Tilera64, and exchanging messages
> between nodes over User Dynamic Network (UDN)[1] instead of TCP. At the
> moment Erlang communicates over TCP/IP. However, for NoC systems like
> this one, chip-specific ways are much much faster[*].
> UDN is a packet-switched network with message ordering and delivery
> guarantees. So TCP (and IP) here is pure overhead, and I want to change
> distributed message passing to use UDN. For that I have to create a new
> inet_tile_dist.erl (similar to inet_tcp_dist.erl) AND make sure
> erlang:send/3 works fine with the new kind of weird socket.
> inet_tcp_dist looks easy. I establish connection, update some global
> state, and give a socket which can be used for sending the messages. The
> socket is the tricky part.
There is an example in $ERL_TOP/lib/kernel/examples/uds_dist, with a 
driver that implements just enough to run distribution ofer Unix domain 
sockets. Maybe that will be of help?
> I was looking how erlang:send/3 works. I started at
> `send_3(BIF_ALIST_3)' in erts/emulator/beam/bif.c:2085, and traced to
> `dsig_send' erts/emulator/beam/dist.c:1609[3]. However, from there I was
> unable to get to the libc send. I know there are more wrappers, because
> TLS and ipv6 node communication is also possible.
> 1. How message sending between nodes is abstracted? I would appreciate
>     some higher-level explanation and brief guide to the code how the
>     buffer is actually *sent*.
You will see in the example that data is serialized and apart from the 
handshake, you only need to pump serialized data over some sort of 
communication channel. If it's reliable and ordered, you will not have a 
problem (ok, famous last words, but anyway :). The abstraction you need 
to implement is a stream of bytes.
> In ssl_distribution documentation[4] I see:
>      Note however that a node started in this way will refuse to talk to
>      other nodes, as no ssl parameters are supplied (see below).
> 2. Do I correctly imply that running a heterogeneous Erlang cluster (for
>     instance, inet_tcp_dist and inet6_tcp_dist) is not possible?
Yes it is - if the naming is done so that you can differentiate between 
names of the two different types when connecting. The select function in 
uds_dist.erl implements a crude version of this. Note that non-hidden 
nodes will need to be able to communicate with all nodes in the cluster, 
so that the name need to be valid both as a TCP name and as something 
you know you can connect to by some other means. In uds_dist erlang 
nodes on the local machine are connected via UDS dist and other nodes 
using tcp_dist.
> If I were to implement UDN, that would put a limit on my Erlang cluster
> to talk only to the same nodes on the NoC. But it would be useful to
> make a larger cluster -- cluster of tilera64 clusters (tilera64 has
> 2x10GiB intefaces). For that to work I still need inet_tcp_dist.
> Regards,
> Motiejus
> [*]: For raw channels, communicating data occurs at a maximum of 3.93 bytes
>       per cycle[2]. Transferring 4 words to a neighbouring core takes 1 cycle.
>       So if I understand correctly, this in theory means 3.93GB/s ~ 30 Gb/s
>       with extremely low latency.
> [1]: http://www.tilera.com/scm/docs/UG120-Architecture-Overview-TILEPro.pdf
> [2]: http://www.princeton.edu/~wentzlaf/documents/Wentzlaff.2007.IEEE_Micro.Tilera.pdf
> [3]: https://github.com/erlang/otp/blob/OTP_R15B02/erts/emulator/beam/dist.c#L1609
> [4]: http://erlang.org/doc/apps/ssl/ssl_distribution.html
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