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!

Scalable Informatics Ceases Operations

March 23, 2017

On the same day we reported on the uncertain future for HPC compiler company PathScale, we are sad to learn that another HPC vendor, Scalable Informatics, is closing its doors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Strategies in Biomedical Data Science’ Advances IT-Research Synergies

March 23, 2017

“Strategies in Biomedical Data Science: Driving Force for Innovation” by Jay A. Etchings (John Wiley & Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Launches New Machine Learning Journal

March 22, 2017

On Monday, Google announced plans to launch a new peer review journal and “ecosystem” Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HFT Firms Turn to Co-Location to Gain Competitive Advantage

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a high-speed, high-stakes world where every millisecond matters. Finding ways to execute trades faster than the competition translates directly to greater revenue for firms, brokerages, and exchanges. Read more…

Swiss Researchers Peer Inside Chips with Improved X-Ray Imaging

March 22, 2017

Peering inside semiconductor chips using x-ray imaging isn’t new, but the technique hasn’t been especially good or easy to accomplish. Read more…

By John Russell

LANL Simulation Shows Massive Black Holes Break ‘Speed Limit’

March 21, 2017

A new computer simulation based on codes developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is shedding light on how supermassive black holes could have formed in the early universe contrary to most prior models which impose a limit on how fast these massive ‘objects’ can form. Read more…

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Ships Drives Based on 3-D XPoint Non-volatile Memory

March 20, 2017

Intel Corp. has begun shipping new storage drives based on its 3-D XPoint non-volatile memory technology as it targets data-driven workloads. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Japanese Supercomputing Project Targets Exascale

March 14, 2017

Another Japanese supercomputing project was revealed this week, this one from emerging supercomputer maker, ExaScaler Inc., and Keio University. The partners are working on an original supercomputer design with exascale aspirations. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Debuts HGX-1 for Cloud; Announces Fujitsu AI Deal

March 9, 2017

On Monday Nvidia announced a major deal with Fujitsu to help build an AI supercomputer for RIKEN using 24 DGX-1 servers. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC4Mfg Advances State-of-the-Art for American Manufacturing

March 9, 2017

Last Friday (March 3, 2017), the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing (HPC4Mfg) program held an industry engagement day workshop in San Diego, bringing together members of the US manufacturing community, national laboratories and universities to discuss the role of high-performance computing as an innovation engine for American manufacturing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

Intel and Trump Announce $7B for Fab 42 Targeting 7nm

February 8, 2017

In what may be an attempt by President Trump to reset his turbulent relationship with the high tech industry, he and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich today announced plans to invest more than $7 billion to complete Fab 42. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This