HPC Startup Takes a Shine to Lustre

By Michael Feldman

July 29, 2010

Lustre, the much-beloved open-source file system technology used by many of the top supercomputers in the world, has a new friend. Actually a whole new company. Whamcloud, a venture-funded startup based in upscale Danville, California, came out of hiding on Wednesday and announced its intentions to help carry the Lustre torch forward on Linux.

Right now Lustre could use a champion. The technology has been passed around a lot since it was originally developed in 1999 by Peter Braam at Carnegie Mellon University. Braam later founded Cluster File Systems (CFS), which released Lustre 1.0 in 2003. Sun Microsystems acquired the technology, along with the CFS engineers in 2007. Of course, by then, Sun was a sinking ship, leading to Oracle’s acquisition of the company in 2010, with Lustre in tow.

That’s when the HPC community started getting nervous. Oracle was never an HPC organization, and from all outward signs (or lack thereof), is not likely to become one. The company has apparently maintained a Lustre team, however, and plans (PDF) to continue hosting the software for the open source Lustre community. But paid support for Lustre 2.0 will be limited to Oracle systems only. Worse yet, it looks like ZFS (an advanced 128-bit file system developed by Sun) will not be ported to Linux, leaving Lustre to rely on the OS’s less-capable extended (ext) file system technology.
 
Enter Whamcloud. The company intends to step into the void left by Oracle and advance the Lustre technology for high performance computing, giving some hope that the file system technology has a viable future in supercomputing — and perhaps elsewhere. “High performance computing is suffering a little bit right now,” says Whamcloud CEO Brent Gorda. “There are always performance bottlenecks everywhere, but the file system is a critical one that is the Achilles Heel in many cases.”

I got a chance to talk with the new CEO about the company’s plans and his expectations for the business. Gorda, who up until a couple of weeks ago was Deputy for Advanced Technology Projects at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), has managed to attract a couple of other well-known Lustre true-believers to the Whamcloud venture. Eric Barton, a lead engineer on the Lustre group at Oracle, is now Whamcloud’s CTO; and Robert Read, who lead the Lustre 2.0 project at Oracle, has signed on as the principal engineer.

According to Gorda, Whamcloud’s near-term plans are to take the lead in developing the Lustre code base for the Linux platform. His experience at LLNL, an early adopter and support of Lustre, should come in handy in this regard. The big machines at many Department of Energy (DOE) and supercomputing centers enthusiastically employ the open-source file system today. Currently, Lustre is used in 15 of the top 30 supercomputers in the world, and about half of all the top 500 systems. Because of the file system’s popularity at the DOE and NSF centers, Gorda believes they will be able to do contract Lustre work for the government labs, who are committed to using the technology on their big supercomputers — at least for the foreseeable future.

Gorda believes the software they intend to develop can live peaceably with the rest of the Lustre code that Oracle is developing for its commercial needs. He says they have no intention of forking the Lustre code base, and does not want to get into a wrestling match with Oracle (and would discourage anyone else from doing this either). “We will absolutely cooperate with Oracle and will do the development in such a way that it is beneficial to them and what they want to use Lustre for,” says Gorda. “But we want to make sure that any such development that we do will be in support of high performance computing.”

One immediate problem that Gorda thinks the HPC-Lustre community needs to focus on is the replacement of ZFS (which will come to Lustre, but on Solaris and not Linux). The HPC community was rallying around ZFS since it represented the next-generation files systems technology, offering advanced features like end-to-end data integrity and software RAID. That capability is not available on Linux’s ext technology, even on the latest ext3 and ext4 file systems.

Further out, the Lustre technology will need to segue into exascale computing. Whamcloud won’t be able to do that alone, however. Scaling file system and I/O technology to exascale will take a concerted effort by the whole community. Gorda concedes that parallel file system technology for that level of computing may not be even be recognizable as Lustre in 10 years. But he is adamant that the community will want an open source solution, and Lustre is the best starting point available.

The other aspect to Whamcloud is implied in its name. Gorda believes Lustre (and parallel file system technology, in general) has significant application to cloud computing. From his perspective, the cloud is another kind of high-end computing platform that has a strong resemblance to high performance computing, especially in its needs for a scalable file system. Gorda admits the company’s strategy is not completely fleshed out yet in regard to this area (he’s only been the CEO for a week), but they have already had some discussions with a few cloud providers to get the ball rolling.

In the meantime, Whamcloud intends to add more staff and build a credible team for the kind of work the company has in its sights. So far, the startup has collected $10 million in venture capital to get the business off the ground, and probably wouldn’t mind attracting some additional funding. “We’re very adamant that the community needs to keep using this technology,” says Gorda, “as well as whatever comes after it.”

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!

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in Los Angeles. The Read more…

By Staff

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

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

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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