DataDirect Networks Builds on Storage Fusion Architecture

By Michael Feldman

November 16, 2009

HPC storage vendor DataDirect Networks (DDN) will soon offer integrated clustered file system support in its Storage Fusion Architecture (SFA) product line. The idea is to drastically reduce the amount of storage switches and file system servers, and thus the cost and complexity of supercomputer-sized file storage. The initial product to provide this capability is the SFA10000E, which is being marketed as an “Open Storage Appliance”  by DDN.

To recap: the SFA10000, which the company unveiled at the International Supercomputing Conference in June, represented a design shift toward using commodity server-type hardware in its high-end storage platform. According to the company, embedding file system support in the SFA enclosure is just the first step toward the development of a unified multi-platform architecture.

The SFA10000 uses Intel Nehalem CPUs, DDR3 memory, and PCIe 2.0 as its foundational hardware. The design is based on a controller couplet pair that can support SATA, SAS, as well as SSD devices. At max capacity (using SATA drives) a single controller pair can drive 2.4 petabytes of storage. Data throughput per enclosure is 10 GB/second.

But because the SFA10000 is using a big chunk of DRAM for I/O caching along with the latest generation Intel CPU platform, it also is able to deliver lots of IOPS — up to 1 million to internal cache storage and up to 300 thousand IOPS to external disk. In a system with a full complement of SSDs, DDN expects that number to approach 400 to 500 IOPS, although as yet no such system has been built.

“The Nehalem with the newer QuickPath technology to connect the processors together, and with the embedded memory controller is very, very good at moving lots of small bits of data, and hence is very good at IOPS,” explains Josh Goldenhar, DDN’s director of product management.

A high IOPS capability has become increasingly important, since modern multicore servers — which, coincidentally are also based on x86 CPUs — are sending multiple simultaneous I/O requests to the storage system. The result is that even sequential I/O ends up looking like random I/O at the storage end, thus the need for high IOPS on top of high throughput.

Since DDN’s new storage architecture encompasses what is essentially a server platform, the company can now use it to bring applications inside. The low-hanging fruit is to add clustered file storage applications, specifically, the options to include a Lustre-based or IBM’s GPFS-based file system on top of the platform’s block storage. This will be implemented via DDN’s ExaScaler platform (for Lustre) and its GridScaler platform (for GPFS). The integrated parallel file system/block storage platform will be sold as the SFA10000E.

According to Goldenhar, the big win here is being able to consolidate the file system server clients, network switches, and storage arrays into a single platform. “The goal for the Storage Fusion Architecture, from the beginning, has been to be able to collapse multiple layers of infrastructure into the storage itself,” he says.

In addition, since the network layer, along with the ensuing protocol translations and data copying, has been eliminated, performance, especially latency, stands to be much improved. With the file system and block storage controller sharing DRAM, DDN has been able to map file reads and writes directly to the same memory used by the DDN RAID stack. On each controller in the enclosure, one of the quad-core Nehalem CPUs runs the DDN RAID stack plus manages the SAS HBAs, while the other CPU is available as an application processor, in this case, to run Lustre or GPFS processes. According to Goldenhar this is done via a virtualization scheme, such that Lustre, GPFS, and the network drivers can run unmodified. But, he says, this is implemented in such a way as not to introduce any significant overhead.

The fact that the storage filers are embedded in the platform should reduce datacenter operational costs significantly, given that a significant chunk of server and network complexity has been squeezed out. That should translate directly into lower requirements for power, cooling, and floor space, as well as reduced management. “We think you’ll be able to build the next generation of multi-petaflop computers using far fewer components,” says Goldenhar. Acquisition cost should be somewhat lower as well and be competitively priced, he adds, although at this point DDN has not offered a price list. The SFA10000E products will be generally available in the first quarter of 2010.

In the second half of 2010, DDN is planning to do a lot more with flash memory technology. In the current SFA offering, flash, in the form of SSDs, are only supported as plug-in replacements for spinning disks. But the packaging around the flash chips that turns a memory product into a storage drive product undercuts some of the potential performance of the technology. Goldenhar says that they intend to put flash memory “a lot closer to the controller,” although he wouldn’t divulge if they’re looking at a PCIe flash design, flash DIMMs, or some as yet undefined solution.

In the longer term, the company is intending to open up the SFA architecture in a much more generalized way, but specifically for end-user applications and storage server virtualization. The rationale is the same as for the embedded filer solution: to enable tighter integration between applications and storage. For example, if a particular storage system is being used for checkpointing, a user might want to take advantage of the idle processors after a checkpoint completes to perform data reduction or to determine if the solution is converging. At this point, DDN is looking to support Linux, Windows, and perhaps even OpenSolaris applications, and is planning to include this support toward the end of 2010.

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!

Top Ten Ways AI Affects HPC in 2019

March 26, 2019

AI workloads are becoming ubiquitous, including running on the world’s fastest computers — thereby changing what we call HPC forever. As every organization plans for the future, AI workloads are on our minds — how Read more…

By James Reinders

GTC 2019: Chief Scientist Bill Dally Provides Glimpse into Nvidia Research Engine

March 22, 2019

Amid the frenzy of GTC this week – Nvidia’s annual conference showcasing all things GPU (and now AI) – William Dally, chief scientist and SVP of research, provided a brief but insightful portrait of Nvidia’s rese Read more…

By John Russell

ORNL Helps Identify Challenges of Extremely Heterogeneous Architectures

March 21, 2019

Exponential growth in classical computing over the last two decades has produced hardware and software that support lightning-fast processing speeds, but advancements are topping out as computing architectures reach thei Read more…

By Laurie Varma

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture: How to Power a Cloud

Learn how HPE and Intel® Omni-Path Architecture provide critical infrastructure for leading Nordic HPC provider’s HPCFLOW cloud service.

powercloud_blog.jpgFor decades, HPE has been at the forefront of high-performance computing, and we’ve powered some of the fastest and most robust supercomputers in the world. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Insurance: Where’s the Risk?

Insurers are facing extreme competitive challenges in their core businesses. Property and Casualty (P&C) and Life and Health (L&H) firms alike are highly impacted by the ongoing globalization, increasing regulation, and digital transformation of their client bases. Read more…

Interview with 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller

March 21, 2019

On the heels of Intel's reaffirmation that it will deliver the first U.S. exascale computer in 2021, which will feature the company's new Intel Xe architecture, we bring you our interview with our 2019 Person to Watch Jim Keller, head of the Silicon Engineering Group at Intel. Read more…

By HPCwire Editorial Team

Top Ten Ways AI Affects HPC in 2019

March 26, 2019

AI workloads are becoming ubiquitous, including running on the world’s fastest computers — thereby changing what we call HPC forever. As every organization Read more…

By James Reinders

GTC 2019: Chief Scientist Bill Dally Provides Glimpse into Nvidia Research Engine

March 22, 2019

Amid the frenzy of GTC this week – Nvidia’s annual conference showcasing all things GPU (and now AI) – William Dally, chief scientist and SVP of research, Read more…

By John Russell

At GTC: Nvidia Expands Scope of Its AI and Datacenter Ecosystem

March 19, 2019

In the high-stakes race to provide the AI life-cycle solution of choice, three of the biggest horses in the field are IBM, Intel and Nvidia. While the latter is only a fraction of the size of its two bigger rivals, and has been in business for only a fraction of the time, Nvidia continues to impress with an expanding array of new GPU-based hardware, software, robotics, partnerships and... Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Debuts Clara AI Toolkit with Pre-Trained Models for Radiology Use

March 19, 2019

AI’s push into healthcare got a boost yesterday with Nvidia’s release of the Clara Deploy AI toolkit which includes 13 pre-trained models for use in radiolo Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Oil and Gas Supercloud Clears Out Remaining Knights Landing Inventory: All 38,000 Wafers

March 13, 2019

The McCloud HPC service being built by Australia’s DownUnder GeoSolutions (DUG) outside Houston is set to become the largest oil and gas cloud in the world th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quick Take: Trump’s 2020 Budget Spares DoE-funded HPC but Slams NSF and NIH

March 12, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget request, released yesterday, proposes deep cuts in many science programs but seems to spare HPC funding by the Depar 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

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

Why Nvidia Bought Mellanox: ‘Future Datacenters Will Be…Like High Performance Computers’

March 14, 2019

“Future datacenters of all kinds will be built like high performance computers,” said Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang during a phone briefing on Monday after Nvidia revealed scooping up the high performance networking company Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ClusterVision in Bankruptcy, Fate Uncertain

February 13, 2019

ClusterVision, European HPC specialists that have built and installed over 20 Top500-ranked systems in their nearly 17-year history, appear to be in the midst o Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Reportedly in $6B Bid for Mellanox

January 30, 2019

The latest rumors and reports around an acquisition of Mellanox focus on Intel, which has reportedly offered a $6 billion bid for the high performance interconn Read more…

By Doug Black

Looking for Light Reading? NSF-backed ‘Comic Books’ Tackle Quantum Computing

January 28, 2019

Still baffled by quantum computing? How about turning to comic books (graphic novels for the well-read among you) for some clarity and a little humor on QC. The Read more…

By John Russell

It’s Official: Aurora on Track to Be First US Exascale Computer in 2021

March 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy along with Intel and Cray confirmed today that an Intel/Cray supercomputer, "Aurora," capable of sustained performance of one exaf 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

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

Deep500: ETH Researchers Introduce New Deep Learning Benchmark for HPC

February 5, 2019

ETH researchers have developed a new deep learning benchmarking environment – Deep500 – they say is “the first distributed and reproducible benchmarking s Read more…

By John Russell

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 Bets $2B Seeking 1000X AI Hardware Performance Boost

February 7, 2019

For now, AI systems are mostly machine learning-based and “narrow” – powerful as they are by today's standards, they're limited to performing a few, narro Read more…

By Doug Black

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

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

Arm Unveils Neoverse N1 Platform with up to 128-Cores

February 20, 2019

Following on its Neoverse roadmap announcement last October, Arm today revealed its next-gen Neoverse microarchitecture with compute and throughput-optimized si Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Move Over Lustre & Spectrum Scale – Here Comes BeeGFS?

November 26, 2018

Is BeeGFS – the parallel file system with European roots – on a path to compete with Lustre and Spectrum Scale worldwide in HPC environments? Frank Herold Read more…

By John Russell

France to Deploy AI-Focused Supercomputer: Jean Zay

January 22, 2019

HPE announced today that it won the contract to build a supercomputer that will drive France’s AI and HPC efforts. The computer will be part of GENCI, the Fre Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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