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HIPPI (High-Performance Parallel Interface)

Contributor(s): Rosario D'Elia, Mark Motsko, and Stephen C. Tenbrink

HIPPI (High-Performance Parallel Interface) is a standard point-to-point protocol for transmitting large amounts of data at up to billions of bits per second over relatively short distances, mainly on local area networks ( LAN s). The proponents of HIPPI believe that its use can make computers, interconnected storage devices, and other resources on a local area network function as though they were all within a single supercomputer. (One firm has coined the term SuperLAN for this idea.) HIPPI is considered an ideal technology for the transfer of "big data," such as data warehouse updating, audio and video streams, and data backup within a range up to 10 kilometers.

HIPPI uses a point-to-point link. The original HIPPI standard specifies data transfer at 800 Mbps with a 32-bit data bus or 1600 Mbps with a 64-bit data bus. Basic HIPPI uses 50 twisted pair copper wires with a maximum range limited to 25 meters. Data is sent in bursts of 1024 or 2048 bytes on a unidirectional channel. Full duplex can be achieved using two channels. An important part of HIPPI is the use of a network switch that will allow data to be forwarded in the network with minimal processing (the switches are called nonblocking crossbar switches ). Error detection is provided, but error correction is left to a higher protocol level. HIPPI packets can be encapsulated and sent over ATM and Fibre Channel networks.

Serial HIPPI, a later version of HIPPI, is designed for networks up to 10 kilometers using optical fiber cable. An even faster technology is HIPPI-6400, which promises up to 6.4 Gbps . (See the table that follows.)

HIPPI defines interfaces at the physical layer (layer 1) and for part of the data-link control ( DLC ) (layer 2) levels of the Open Systems Interconnection ( OSI ) communications model. In addition to the standard HIPPI specification, there are working papers for proposed standards for related aspects of using HIPPI at the application level.

The following table summarizes HIPPI technologies.

HIPPI Technology Speed Maximum Distance Physical Medium
HIPPI-800 800 Mbps (100 megabytes per second) 25 meters One 50-pair twisted pair copper wire
HIPPI-1600 1600 Mbps (200 Mbytes per second) 25 meters Two 50-pair twisted pair copper wire
HIPPI-800 Serial 800 Mbps 1 kilometer with...
10 kilometers with...
multimode fiber optical fiber
single mode fiber optical fiber
HIPPI-1600 Serial 1600 Mbps 1 kilometer with...
10 kilometers with...
multimode fiber optical fiber
single mode fiber optical fiber
HIPPI-6400 6.4 Gbps 50 meters twisted pair copper wire
HIPPI-6400 6.4 Gbps 1 kilometer optical fiber
This was last updated in March 2011

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