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!

Machine Learning at HPC User Forum: Drilling into Specific Use Cases

September 22, 2017

The 66th HPC User Forum held September 5-7, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the elegant and historic Pfister Hotel, highlighting the 1893 Victorian décor and art of “The Grand Hotel Of The West,” contrasted nicely with Read more…

By Arno Kolster

Google Cloud Makes Good on Promise to Add Nvidia P100 GPUs

September 21, 2017

Google has taken down the notice on its cloud platform website that says Nvidia Tesla P100s are “coming soon.” That's because the search giant has announced the beta launch of the high-end P100 Nvidia Tesla GPUs on t Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Wins $48M Supercomputer Contract from KISTI

September 21, 2017

It was a good day for Cray which won a $48 million contract from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) for a 128-rack CS500 cluster supercomputer. The new system, equipped with Intel Xeon Scal Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPE Prepares Customers for Success with the HPC Software Portfolio

High performance computing (HPC) software is key to harnessing the full power of HPC environments. Development and management tools enable IT departments to streamline installation and maintenance of their systems as well as create, optimize, and run their HPC applications. Read more…

Adolfy Hoisie to Lead Brookhaven’s Computing for National Security Effort

September 21, 2017

Brookhaven National Laboratory announced today that Adolfy Hoisie will chair its newly formed Computing for National Security department, which is part of Brookhaven’s new Computational Science Initiative (CSI). Read more…

By John Russell

Machine Learning at HPC User Forum: Drilling into Specific Use Cases

September 22, 2017

The 66th HPC User Forum held September 5-7, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the elegant and historic Pfister Hotel, highlighting the 1893 Victorian décor and art o Read more…

By Arno Kolster

Stanford University and UberCloud Achieve Breakthrough in Living Heart Simulations

September 21, 2017

Cardiac arrhythmia can be an undesirable and potentially lethal side effect of drugs. During this condition, the electrical activity of the heart turns chaotic, Read more…

By Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud, and Francisco Sahli, Stanford University

PNNL’s Center for Advanced Tech Evaluation Seeks Wider HPC Community Ties

September 21, 2017

Two years ago the Department of Energy established the Center for Advanced Technology Evaluation (CENATE) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). CENAT Read more…

By John Russell

Exascale Computing Project Names Doug Kothe as Director

September 20, 2017

The Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Project (ECP) has named Doug Kothe as its new director effective October 1. He replaces Paul Messina, who is stepping down after two years to return to Argonne National Laboratory. Kothe is a 32-year veteran of DOE’s National Laboratory System. Read more…

Takeaways from the Milwaukee HPC User Forum

September 19, 2017

Milwaukee’s elegant Pfister Hotel hosted approximately 100 attendees for the 66th HPC User Forum (September 5-7, 2017). In the original home city of Pabst Blu Read more…

By Merle Giles

Kathy Yelick Charts the Promise and Progress of Exascale Science

September 15, 2017

On Friday, Sept. 8, Kathy Yelick of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, delivered the keynote address on “Breakthrough Science at the Exascale” at the ACM Europe Conference in Barcelona. In conjunction with her presentation, Yelick agreed to a short Q&A discussion with HPCwire. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Pledges Another $300 Million for Post-Moore’s Readiness

September 14, 2017

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched a giant funding effort to ensure the United States can sustain the pace of electronic innovation vital to both a flourishing economy and a secure military. Under the banner of the Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI), some $500-$800 million will be invested in post-Moore’s Law technologies. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Breaks Ground for Complex Quantum Chemistry

September 14, 2017

IBM has reported the use of a novel algorithm to simulate BeH2 (beryllium-hydride) on a quantum computer. This is the largest molecule so far simulated on a quantum computer. The technique, which used six qubits of a seven-qubit system, is an important step forward and may suggest an approach to simulating ever larger molecules. Read more…

By John Russell

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries: 7nm Chips Coming in 2018, EUV in 2019

June 13, 2017

GlobalFoundries has formally announced that its 7nm technology is ready for customer engagement with product tape outs expected for the first half of 2018. The Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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