What Is High-Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI)? - ITU Online

What Is High-Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI)?

person pointing left

Definition: High-Performance Parallel Interface

High-Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) is a point-to-point, channel-based, high-speed communication protocol developed to facilitate the rapid transfer of large volumes of data between supercomputers and peripheral devices or between two supercomputers. Originally designed in the late 1980s and standardized in the early 1990s, HIPPI has been instrumental in areas requiring massive data throughput capabilities, such as high-end scientific research, complex simulations, and large-scale data analysis.

HIPPI’s architecture allows it to achieve high data rates, typically ranging from 800 Megabits per second (Mbps) to over 6.4 Gigabits per second (Gbps) in its various iterations, making it a vital component in the development and operation of supercomputing environments. Despite the advent of newer technologies, the principles and design philosophies behind HIPPI continue to influence the development of modern high-speed networking standards.

Overview and Technical Insights

High-Performance Parallel Interface technology has paved the way for advancements in supercomputing and data-intensive applications. Its contribution is pivotal in environments where speed and efficiency in data handling are critical. In this detailed exploration, we delve into HIPPI’s core attributes, applications, benefits, and its lasting impact on network design and data transfer technologies.

Features and Specifications

HIPPI’s primary features include its simplicity of design, high throughput, and scalability. It operates using a parallel data transmission method, where multiple data bits are transmitted simultaneously across several channels, significantly increasing the speed of data transfer compared to serial interfaces. HIPPI interfaces typically use a 50-pin cable for Short-HIPPI (up to 25 meters) and fiber optic cables for Long-HIPPI (up to several kilometers), catering to both local and more extended distance communications.

Benefits of HIPPI

The design and operational benefits of HIPPI include:

  • High Throughput: Its ability to support extremely high data transfer rates makes it ideal for supercomputing tasks and large-scale data processing.
  • Low Latency: HIPPI’s direct point-to-point connection minimizes delays, enabling real-time or near-real-time data processing.
  • Scalability: The interface supports a wide range of applications and can be scaled to meet the demands of increasingly complex computational tasks.
  • Reliability: HIPPI’s simplified protocol architecture reduces the risk of data corruption and ensures a high level of data integrity.

Applications and Use Cases

Initially, HIPPI was widely used in environments where large datasets required rapid movement between storage devices and supercomputers, such as:

  • Scientific Research: In fields like climate modeling, astrophysics, and bioinformatics, where analyzing vast datasets is common.
  • Visualization and Graphics Processing: For transferring high-resolution images and video data in real-time.
  • Data Centers and High-Performance Computing (HPC) Environments: To facilitate the high-speed movement of data within and between supercomputers.

Transition and Legacy

As networking technologies evolved, protocols like 10 Gigabit Ethernet and InfiniBand began to offer similar or superior speeds and additional features such as enhanced security and support for IP-based networks. However, the design principles and the emphasis on high bandwidth and low latency in HIPPI have significantly influenced the development of these newer standards.

HIPPI’s contribution to the understanding and development of high-speed data transmission remains influential. Its design philosophy underscores the importance of simplicity, efficiency, and performance in network interface design, principles that are essential in the era of big data and beyond.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to High-Performance Parallel Interface

What is HIPPI and why was it developed?

HIPPI, the High-Performance Parallel Interface, was developed to meet the demand for high-speed data transfer between supercomputers and peripherals, facilitating the rapid handling of large volumes of data in scientific research and high-performance computing environments.

How does HIPPI achieve high data transfer rates?

HIPPI achieves high data transfer rates through parallel data transmission, sending multiple bits of data simultaneously across several channels, significantly increasing overall data throughput compared to serial transmission methods.

What are the typical applications of HIPPI?

Typical applications of HIPPI include scientific research, where vast datasets are common, visualization and graphics processing requiring high-speed data transfers, and data centers or HPC environments for efficient data movement.

What advantages does HIPPI offer over other interfaces?

HIPPI offers the advantages of high throughput, low latency, scalability, and reliability, making it well-suited for applications demanding rapid and efficient data handling.

Has HIPPI been replaced by newer technologies?

While newer technologies like 10 Gigabit Ethernet and InfiniBand offer similar or superior features, HIPPI’s design principles and its focus on high bandwidth and low latency have significantly influenced these and other modern networking standards.

Can HIPPI be used for internet and IP-based networks?

HIPPI was primarily designed for high-speed, point-to-point data transfer in supercomputing environments and does not natively support IP-based networks, unlike some newer standards that offer this capability.

What is the maximum distance HIPPI can cover?

HIPPI can cover distances up to 25 meters using standard 50-pin cables for Short-HIPPI configurations and several kilometers with fiber optic cables for Long-HIPPI configurations, accommodating both local and extended distance communications.

How does HIPPI ensure data integrity?

HIPPI ensures high data integrity through its simplified protocol architecture, which reduces the risk of data corruption and ensures that data is accurately transmitted and received.

LIFETIME All-Access IT Training

All Access Lifetime IT Training

Upgrade your IT skills and become an expert with our All Access Lifetime IT Training. Get unlimited access to 12,000+ courses!
Total Hours
2622 Hrs 0 Min
13,307 On-demand Videos


Add To Cart
All Access IT Training – 1 Year

All Access IT Training – 1 Year

Get access to all ITU courses with an All Access Annual Subscription. Advance your IT career with our comprehensive online training!
Total Hours
2635 Hrs 32 Min
13,488 On-demand Videos


Add To Cart
All-Access IT Training Monthly Subscription

All Access Library – Monthly subscription

Get unlimited access to ITU’s online courses with a monthly subscription. Start learning today with our All Access Training program.
Total Hours
2622 Hrs 51 Min
13,334 On-demand Videos

$14.99 / month with a 10-day free trial