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December 11, 2012

EIOW Shaping Exascale I/O is gaining Industry Momentum

Nicole Hemsoth

Author: Ken Claffey

As 2012 comes to a close, I see some great progress being made by the Exascale I/O Workgroup (EIOW – see From helping formulate requirements on next generation I/O middleware to working among diverse HPC application developers and industry contributors, the group is charting a new direction for exascale-capable HPC architectural methods and prototypes.

In the last year, EIOW has held three requirements-gathering meetings and one architectural design meeting, and received contributions from 35 organizations.  Additionally, EIOW attained adoption as a supported initiative of the European Open File Systems organization, where EIOW is regarded as one of the most hopeful initiatives to tackle I/O and data management at exascale.

The focus of EIOW is on middleware, including schemas describing data structure and layout, novel access methods to data for applications and a uniform data management infrastructure and framework for implementation of layered I/O software.  With broad industry support, EIOW committed to operate in a global, vendor neutral manner consistent with open source practice to expedite open middleware interfaces. 

EIOW’s intent is to continue support on legacy POSIX-compliant interfaces while promoting general acceptance on richer interfaces between next-generation applications and lower-level storage infrastructure. These would include object stores, databases and file systems as supported by storage providers. I see EIOW as being complementary to other HPC exascale projects such as the FastForward program funded by the U.S. government, which Intel is leading.

While we have seen a lot of great progress in the last 12 months along with great participation at the recent community meetings held at SC, we are extremely excited to report increased momentum as the EIOW initiative continues to progress into 2013. Several meetings have already announced on the website, and we expect them to yield tremendous new value.  For more information on EIOW, its technical vision, its architectural approach and the industry collaboration occurring in the group, please see “The Exa-scale I/O Initiative – EIOW” white paper authored by Xyratex chief software architect Peter Braam.

On behalf of our key EIOW contributors Peter Braam, Nikita Danilov and Nathan Rutman, Xyratex is pleased to help global HPC industry initiatives achieve general acceptance. We also are proud to lead the effort to establish critical exascale I/O middleware infrastructure prototypes, implement them over the coming years and help them achieve widespread adoption. 

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