High Performance Parallel Interface


High Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) is a high-speed data transfer technology that facilitates communication between computers and peripheral devices. It uses parallel connections for transferring large amounts of data at high speeds, up to 800 Mbps or even 6.4 Gbps in some advanced versions. HIPPI is commonly employed in supercomputing and data-intensive applications, such as scientific research and multimedia processing.


The phonetic pronunciation of the keyword “High Performance Parallel Interface” is: hahy – pərˈfôrməns – ˈparəˌlel – ˈintərˌfās

Key Takeaways

  1. High Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) is a high-speed communications protocol designed for data-intensive applications, offering data transfer rates up to 800 Mbps.
  2. It is primarily used to connect supercomputers, high-end workstations, and high-speed storage devices in data centers and research institutions.
  3. Having low latency and simplicity in its design, HIPPI supports advanced network topologies like point-to-point, bus, and switch connections, making it suitable for both local and remote high-speed data transfers.


The technology term High Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) is important as it refers to a high-speed data transfer protocol initially developed for supercomputers and later applied in various networking and data storage applications.

As a point-to-point communication standard, HIPPI offers fast, efficient, and reliable data transmission rates, ranging from 800 Mbps to 6400 Mbps, which significantly enhances the overall performance of data-intensive systems.

It has been particularly valuable for large-scale scientific computations, image processing, and data visualization where massive data files need to be transferred rapidly between devices or network components.

HIPPI’s impact on computer networks has paved the way for further advancements in parallel processing and high-speed communication technologies, making it an essential milestone in the evolution of modern computing systems.


High Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) serves a vital purpose in the world of digital communication as it facilitates high-speed data transfer between powerful computers and other data-processing devices. One of the primary reasons behind its conception in the late 1980s was to address the limitations of networking systems at that time, which were struggling to keep pace with rapidly evolving computer processing capabilities.

Developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), HIPPI’s role in supporting supercomputers, high-end servers, and data storage facilities has been crucial, with its use extending to data-intensive applications such as simulation modeling, scientific visualization, and real-time video processing. As a point-to-point, switched parallel interconnect technology, HIPPI enables devices to exchange massive amounts of data at strikingly high speeds utilizing multiple data lines running parallel to each other.

Early HIPPI implementations offered speeds of up to 800 megabits per second (Mbps), while later variations, like HIPPI-6400, provided a staggering capacity of 6.4 gigabits per second (Gbps). The increased data transfer speed helps in reducing bottlenecks experienced in applications that require the handling of extensive data sets in minimal timeframes. Although HIPPI may not be as widespread today due to the emergence of other network standards, its historical significance as a pioneer in high-speed data networking remains undoubtedly invaluable.

Examples of High Performance Parallel Interface

High Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) technology emerged in the late 1980s and was widely adopted throughout the 1990s as a high-speed data transfer protocol. Here are three real-world examples of how HIPPI technology was used:

Supercomputer Interconnection: HIPPI was once a popular connectivity option for high-performance supercomputers. For instance, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois connected several supercomputers, including Cray Y-MP and Convex machines using HIPPI technology. This enabled fast data transfers and allowed researchers to work on computationally intensive projects such as weather modeling, molecular dynamics, and fluid dynamics simulations.

Networks in Scientific Research: CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, used HIPPI technology to interconnect various computer systems and enable rapid data transfers among different research areas. This high-speed data transfer mechanism was essential for handling the massive volume of data generated by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and other particle physics experiments.

Telecommunications and Media Industries: HIPPI technology was employed by companies in the telecommunications, broadcasting, and media industries for high-speed networking. An example is New York-based Time Warner Communications, which used HIPPI-based systems to link its large video servers in the early 1990s. This enabled the efficient delivery of digital content like video-on-demand services to numerous customers.While HIPPI technology played a significant role in high-performance computing and data transfer during its time, it has largely been supplanted by newer technologies such as InfiniBand and Gigabit Ethernet.

FAQ: High Performance Parallel Interface

1. What is High Performance Parallel Interface?

High Performance Parallel Interface (HIPPI) is a high-speed data communication standard that provides a point-to-point connection for devices through a parallel communication channel. It is widely used in high-performance computing, networking, and data storage systems, where it facilitates rapid data transfer between various components.

2. How fast is HIPPI?

HIPPI can achieve data transfer rates of up to 6.4 Gbps with its latest version, HIPPI-6400. Earlier versions, HIPPI-800 and HIPPI-1600, supported speeds of 800 Mbps and 1.6 Gbps, respectively.

3. What are the primary applications of HIPPI?

Originally designed for supercomputers, HIPPI is often used for data-intensive applications that require high bandwidth and low latency. Its primary applications include the transfer of large volumes of data in scientific research, high-performance computer networks, advanced visualization systems, and data storage systems.

4. How is HIPPI different from other networking technologies?

HIPPI stands out from other networking technologies owing to its incredible speed, simplicity, and scalability. It employs parallel data transfers between components, supports multiple data formats, and has a straightforward architecture that simplifies integration into other systems.

5. Can HIPPI be used with existing networking technologies?

Yes, HIPPI can be integrated with other networking technologies using appropriate bridging and switching devices. For instance, it can be connected to Ethernet, ATM, and Fibre Channel networks through the use of converters and switches that support the HIPPI protocol.

6. Is HIPPI still relevant today?

While newer networking technologies have emerged, HIPPI remains relevant due to its ability to handle large data transfers efficiently. It is particularly useful in specialized high-performance computing environments, where its high-speed, low-latency communication capabilities are essential for optimum performance.

Related Technology Terms

  • Data throughput
  • Parallel computing
  • Scalable Coherent Interface (SCI)
  • HIPPI-6400
  • Switched fabric

Sources for More Information


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