LSI Intros HPC Storage System

By John E. West

June 20, 2008

This week at ISC in Dresden, Germany, storage vendor LSI is demonstrating the Engenio 7900, a storage product that they feel puts HPC centers right where they need to be: offering users a highly reliable storage solution that doesn’t sacrifice performance or configurability.

LSI sees HPC centers as facing two types of workloads. On the one hand there is the purpose-oriented HPC shop that serves a very small number of users running one or two applications. For the purpose-oriented center, building a highly efficient storage architecture is a straightforward exercise that begins with characterizing the I/O patterns of a limited universe of applications and constructing the solution best suited to those patterns. On the other hand is the general purpose center, serving hundreds or thousands of users with a very diverse workload. This center faces a more significant challenge.

I/O workloads, and the storage systems that serve them, typically fall somewhere between two extremes: small blocks of random access on the one hand (file serving or metadata systems for example), and large blocks of sequential access (output files from large computational simulations) on the other. It is possible to build a system that can serve either of these workloads well, but usually not both at the same time.

With its new Engenio 7900 HPC storage system, LSI feels it has created a solution that prevents HPC centers from having to compromise one type of I/O workload in favor of another.

The 7900 is LSI’s flagship storage product. The system features sixteen 4 Gbps FC or eight 20 Gbps IB host connectivity, with 6.4 GB/s performance on sequential disk reads and 5.4 GB/s on sequential writes. The unit will ship with the capability of supporting 256 SATA drives, with growth to 448 drives in future updates.

The company has placed a lot of emphasis on reliability and future-proofing with this product. On the reliability side, the 7900 features battery-backed controller cache mirroring, redundant data paths with automated failover, proactive drive health monitoring, and a hardware assisted RAID-6 among other features. To ensure that a customer storage solution remains relevant in the face of changing technology, the 7900’s host interface cards are field-replacable daughter cards on the front end of the controller, allowing users to purchase a 4 Gbps FC solution today and change over to 40 Gbps IB in the future without buying a totally new system.

The 7900 is able to serve so much diversity in the target job mix by offering a wide range of configuration options, from disabling mirrored write cached to changing the stripe width — all accessible from system management tools and even a command line interface if needed. In some cases these parameters are settable by the user for specific jobs, allowing centers to work with users to tune the type of I/O service they get to best serve their particular needs.

Another advantage that LSI cites is the array’s ability to simultaneously support multiple RAID configurations among the trays in a system. A user might have some trays configured for RAID 10 supporting an Oracle installation, some for RAID 6, and some for RAID 5 offering protection but without sacrificing as much performance.

And while this is a new announcement, the product has already been used in the field by Oak Ridge National Labs since fall of last year, with another 51 units in acquisition by customers at major HPC facilities.

Why the emphasis on reliability with this product, especially in the face of several recent announcements by others in the storage space that were explicitly trading off reliability in favor of larger, less expensive solutions? I talked with Steve Hochberg, senior director for federal sales in the US, and Dave Ellis, director of HPC architecture, about the product.

As Hochberg explained, “We used to talk to users who would say, ‘Oh, it’s just scratch disk. We don’t really care if it goes down, we’ll just replace the disk and restart the job.'” But with dramatically increasing system sizes, and an increasing reliance on supercomputing in enterprise mission-critical applications, customers have become much more sensitive to the losses in productivity inherent in keeping a multi-thousand core HPC system idle because the filesystem is down.

One of the interesting things I found while talking to Hochberg and Ellis was the structure of the company itself. Although LSI sells its gear through OEMs, it cultivates a close relationship with HPC users to ensure that it has a direct connection to storage requirements. Hochberg described LSI’s “sell to” organization, which manages sales to HPC OEMs who then brand LSI’s gear as their own before plunking it on your machine room floor. This is complemented by LSI’s “sell with” organization that goes in with OEMs for large customers to make sure that their user requirements make it into current and future solutions offered by the company.

Today the company is facing an uphill battle with its new product. IBM, Cray, SGI, SiCortex, Dell, and others all OEM storage gear from DDN for their large HPC compute systems. Several of these vendors also OEM LSI gear, notably SGI, but tend to target it for other applications. The 7900 is LSI’s shot at a product that can make them the de facto standard as the storage engine for big compute.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Pfizer HPC Engineer Aims to Automate Software Stack Testing

January 17, 2019

Seeking to reign in the tediousness of manual software testing, Pfizer HPC Engineer Shahzeb Siddiqui is developing an open source software tool called buildtest, aimed at automating software stack testing by providing the community with a central repository of tests for common HPC apps and the ability to automate execution of testing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Senegal Prepares to Take Delivery of Atos Supercomputer

January 16, 2019

In just a few months time, Senegal will be operating the second largest HPC system in sub-Saharan Africa. The Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation Mary Teuw Niane made the announcement on Monday (Jan. 14 Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Cloud Platform Extends GPU Instance Options

January 16, 2019

If it's Nvidia GPUs you're after to power your AI/HPC/visualization workload, Google Cloud has them, now claiming "broadest GPU availability." Each of the three big public cloud vendors has by turn touted the latest and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Systems With Intel Omni-Path: Architected for Value and Accessible High-Performance Computing

Today’s high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) users value high performing clusters. And the higher the performance that their system can deliver, the better. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Resource Management in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

New challenges demand fresh approaches

Fueled by GPUs, big data, and rapid advances in software, the AI revolution is upon us. Read more…

STAC Floats ML Benchmark for Financial Services Workloads

January 16, 2019

STAC (Securities Technology Analysis Center) recently released an ‘exploratory’ benchmark for machine learning which it hopes will evolve into a firm benchmark or suite of benchmarking tools to compare the performanc Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Platform Extends GPU Instance Options

January 16, 2019

If it's Nvidia GPUs you're after to power your AI/HPC/visualization workload, Google Cloud has them, now claiming "broadest GPU availability." Each of the three Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

STAC Floats ML Benchmark for Financial Services Workloads

January 16, 2019

STAC (Securities Technology Analysis Center) recently released an ‘exploratory’ benchmark for machine learning which it hopes will evolve into a firm benchm Read more…

By John Russell

A Big Data Journey While Seeking to Catalog our Universe

January 16, 2019

It turns out, astronomers have lots of photos of the sky but seek knowledge about what the photos mean. Sound familiar? Big data problems are often characterize Read more…

By James Reinders

Intel Bets Big on 2-Track Quantum Strategy

January 15, 2019

Quantum computing has lived so long in the future it’s taken on a futuristic life of its own, with a Gartner-style hype cycle that includes triggers of innovation, inflated expectations and – though a useful quantum system is still years away – anticipatory troughs of disillusionment. Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Quantum Update: Q System One Launch, New Collaborators, and QC Center Plans

January 10, 2019

IBM made three significant quantum computing announcements at CES this week. One was introduction of IBM Q System One; it’s really the integration of IBM’s Read more…

By John Russell

IBM’s New Global Weather Forecasting System Runs on GPUs

January 9, 2019

Anyone who has checked a forecast to decide whether or not to pack an umbrella knows that weather prediction can be a mercurial endeavor. It is a Herculean task: the constant modeling of incredibly complex systems to a high degree of accuracy at a local level within very short spans of time. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Computing Will Never Work

November 27, 2018

Amid the gush of money and enthusiastic predictions being thrown at quantum computing comes a proposed cold shower in the form of an essay by physicist Mikhail Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Unveils Shasta, Lands NERSC-9 Contract

October 30, 2018

Cray revealed today the details of its next-gen supercomputing architecture, Shasta, selected to be the next flagship system at NERSC. We've known of the code-name "Shasta" since the Argonne slice of the CORAL project was announced in 2015 and although the details of that plan have changed considerably, Cray didn't slow down its timeline for Shasta. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Sets Up for Epyc Epoch

November 16, 2018

It’s been a good two weeks, AMD’s Gary Silcott and Andy Parma told me on the last day of SC18 in Dallas at the restaurant where we met to discuss their show news and recent successes. Heck, it’s been a good year. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Case Against ‘The Case Against Quantum Computing’

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy to be a physicist. Richard Feynman (basically the Jimi Hendrix of physicists) once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourse Read more…

By Ben Criger

US Leads Supercomputing with #1, #2 Systems & Petascale Arm

November 12, 2018

The 31st Supercomputing Conference (SC) - commemorating 30 years since the first Supercomputing in 1988 - kicked off in Dallas yesterday, taking over the Kay Ba Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Contract Signed for New Finnish Supercomputer

December 13, 2018

After the official contract signing yesterday, configuration details were made public for the new BullSequana system that the Finnish IT Center for Science (CSC Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang Delivers Vision for the New HPC

November 14, 2018

For nearly two hours on Monday at SC18, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, presented his expansive view of the future of HPC (and computing in general) as only he can do. Animated. Backstopped by a stream of data charts, product photos, and even a beautiful image of supernovae... Read more…

By John Russell

HPE No. 1, IBM Surges, in ‘Bucking Bronco’ High Performance Server Market

September 27, 2018

Riding healthy U.S. and global economies, strong demand for AI-capable hardware and other tailwind trends, the high performance computing server market jumped 28 percent in the second quarter 2018 to $3.7 billion, up from $2.9 billion for the same period last year, according to industry analyst firm Hyperion Research. Read more…

By Doug Black

Leading Solution Providers

SC 18 Virtual Booth Video Tour

Advania @ SC18 AMD @ SC18
ASRock Rack @ SC18
DDN Storage @ SC18
HPE @ SC18
IBM @ SC18
Lenovo @ SC18 Mellanox Technologies @ SC18
NVIDIA @ SC18
One Stop Systems @ SC18
Oracle @ SC18 Panasas @ SC18
Supermicro @ SC18 SUSE @ SC18 TYAN @ SC18
Verne Global @ SC18

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Reflections and (Mostly Hopeful) Predictions

December 19, 2018

So much ‘spaghetti’ gets tossed on walls by the technology community (vendors and researchers) to see what sticks that it is often difficult to peer through Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Confirms 48-Core Cascade Lake-AP for 2019

November 4, 2018

As part of the run-up to SC18, taking place in Dallas next week (Nov. 11-16), Intel is doling out info on its next-gen Cascade Lake family of Xeon processors, specifically the “Advanced Processor” version (Cascade Lake-AP), architected for high-performance computing, artificial intelligence and infrastructure-as-a-service workloads. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Germany Celebrates Launch of Two Fastest Supercomputers

September 26, 2018

The new high-performance computer SuperMUC-NG at the Leibniz Supercomputing Center (LRZ) in Garching is the fastest computer in Germany and one of the fastest i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft to Buy Mellanox?

December 20, 2018

Networking equipment powerhouse Mellanox could be an acquisition target by Microsoft, according to a published report in an Israeli financial publication. Microsoft has reportedly gone so far as to engage Goldman Sachs to handle negotiations with Mellanox. Read more…

By Doug Black

Houston to Field Massive, ‘Geophysically Configured’ Cloud Supercomputer

October 11, 2018

Based on some news stories out today, one might get the impression that the next system to crack number one on the Top500 would be an industrial oil and gas mon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Deep500 – Researchers Tackle an HPC Benchmark for Deep Learning

January 7, 2019

How do you know if an HPC system, particularly a larger-scale system, is well-suited for deep learning workloads? Today, that’s not an easy question to answer Read more…

By John Russell

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This