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LITE Local Indirection TiEr (SOSP'17)

[SOSP 2017 Paper] [Slide]

LITE - Kernel RDMA Support for Datacenter Applications v0.2

LITE stands for Local Indirection TiEr for RDMA in the Linux kernel. LITE virtualizes native RDMA into a flexible, high-level, easy-to-use abstraction and allows applications to safely share resources. Despite the widely-held belief that kernel bypassing is essential to RDMA's low-latency performance, LITE shows that using a kernel-level indirection can achieve both flexibility and lowlatency, scalable performance at the same time.

This version of LITE has been tested for the following configuration:

  1. Software
  • OS: CentOS 7.1 (kernel 3.11.1 - also supports kernel 3.10.108, but uses kernel 3.11.1 if possible)
    • A port of LITE by Yizhou Shan for kernel 4.9 can be found here (Check Section Caution for more details).
  • RDMA drivers: mlx4 from official libibverbs and verbs.
  1. Hardware
  • RNICs:
    • ConnectX-3 354A (InfiniBand, RoCE)
  1. Package (on CentOS7)
  • required packages: libmthca infiniband-diags perftest qperf opensm libibverbs librdmacm librdmacm-devel libmlx4 libibverbs-utils
  • add the following two lines to the end of /etc/security/limits.conf
    • * soft memlock unlimited
    • * hard memlock unlimited
  1. LITE is not compatible with MLNX_OFED now

We built LITE as a linux module for the Linux 3.11.1 (also 3.10.108) kernel (patch for syscall is provided). The LITE kernel module is in core/. The folder lite-userspace contains simple examples of using LITE in user space. The code core\lite_test.c contains simple examples of using LITE in kernel space.


This is a BETA version. We will have our stable version ready soon. For more information please check LITE Paper appeared in SOSP'17.

LITE could also run in python by importing ctypes. There is an example code from pyLITE. This has not been verified by the LITE team. Use it with your own caution.

LITE is also ported into kernel 4.9 by Yizhou Shan at LITE-4.9. This port is tested with Ubuntu kernel 4.9.103 and mlx5. There are several known differences between kernel 3.x and kernel 4.x, and also mlx4 and mlx5 driver. Some features and performance numbers could be different. Use it with your own caution.

How To Run LITE


  1. More than two machines connected via InfiniBand.
  2. One of the machines (served as cluster manager) has installed InfiniBand OFED user-level library. The rest of the machines serve as LITE clients and need to compile kernel (see below).

S1: Compile cluster manager

LITE's cluster manager source code is located in cluster-manager/, which runs on user space. Assume this machine has installed all IB user libraries, you can go to this directory and simply do make. After that, you will have a mgmt-server, which is LITE's clueter manager. Also, get the IP address of this CD server, which will be used by all other LITE clients to establish connection.

S2: Install and boot LITE kernel on LITE clients (required root privilege for steps 4, 5, and 6)

  1. First, get linux tarball (we used 3.11.1 from wget and 3.10.108 from wget
  2. extract the tarball and cd into the kernel source code (e.g., cd linux-[version])
  3. apply lite-patch (mainly for syscall) patch -p1 < ../lite_kernel_patch_[version]
  4. Compile the kernel with your machine's old config:
    cp /boot/config-your-default-kernel-version lite-kernel/.config
    make oldconfig (Recommended to have a special CONFIG_LOCALVERSION="LITE")
    make all [-j ncpus] ; make modules_install [-j ncpus] ; make install
  5. Change booting order if needed [grub2-set-default 0]
  6. Reboot the machine and use uname to check if the kernel version matches.

S3: Config LITE

LITE has several options that can be configured at compile time at lite.h in core/. The default configurations have been tested to work well for our applications. We will provide a documentation of these configurations soon.

Please enable LITE_ROCE at lite.h in core/ and client.h in cluster-manager if you want to run LITE with RoCE.

S4: Compile Modules

After boot into lite-kernel successfully (S2), go to lite directory and type make to compile lite three modules. If the kernel is right, you will have 3 modules compiled: lite_internal.ko, lite_api.ko, and lite_test.ko. lite_internal.ko is the LITE core module and lite_api.ko is a module includes all LITE API. lite_test.ko is a module which shows how to use LITE in kernel space.

S5: Run

In general, to run LITE, you need to start cluster manager first, which will listen on port 18500. After that, start LITE clients one by one to establish the connection with cluster manager.

S5.1 Run cluster manager

You can start cluster manager like this:

./mgmt-server -p [eth_port] -i [ib_port]

S5.2: Run LITE

Start LITE clients one by one to establish the connection with cluster manager assuming the IP address of cluster manager is Client needs to install lite_internal.ko and lite_api.ko first in order. There is a simple script, which help you to install these two modules.

S5.2.1: Run LITE in userspace

call userspace_liteapi_join("", 18500, 1) if you want to use port 18500 and IB port 1 to build LITE cluster.

S5.2.2: Run LITE in kernel space

call liteapi_establish_conn("", 18500, 1) if you want to use port 18500 and IB port 1 to build LITE cluster.

S5.3: establish_conn

Even the program which is called liteapi_establish_conn is terminated, the node is still in LITE cluster. Therefore, I suggest to write an extra program (as lite_join.c) to join the cluster instead of doing join inside your testing program. How to join a node is illustrated in lite example code.

In detail:

  1. insmod lite_internal.ko
    This will insmod lite_internal module
  2. insmod lite_api.ko
    This will insmod lite_api module
  3. userspace_liteapi_join("", 18500, 1) or liteapi_establish_connection("", 18500, 1) This will connect with cluster manager and connent the client to LITE cluster

S6: Run User Programs

There are several code samples under lite_userspace/. Basically, we join LITE with userspace_ibali_join() and calling malloc/send/receive/read/write based on lite_userspace/lite-lib.c.

S7: Leave LITE cluster

Currenly, LITE doesn't provide complete instructions for leaving LITE cluster.
If a node leaves, all nodes have to leave LITE and rebuild the whole cluster. By running rmmod lite_api.ko and lite_internal.ko in order can terminate the LITE module (or running It could re-connect to LITE cluster manager to rebuild the whole LITE cluster again by following Step 5 (also ctrl+c to re-run for cluster manager).


LITE v0.1: first opensource LITE

LITE v0.2: beta version of LITE-RoCE

Please check core/README to see current limitations


To cite LITE, please use:

author = {Shin-Yeh Tsai and Yiying Zhang},
title = {LITE Kernel RDMA Support for Datacenter Applications},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 26th Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP '17)},
year = {2017},
address = {Shanghai, China},
month = {October}


LITE Kernel RDMA Support for Datacenter Applications. SOSP 2017.







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