Panasas Opens New Windows for Wider HPC View

By Nicole Hemsoth

March 11, 2014

Like many other storage companies with roots in HPC, Panasas is leveraging its history in some of the most demanding environments to bridge the technical to commercial computing divide.

According to the company’s Geoffrey Noer, just three years ago, most Panasas customers were in traditional HPC, scattered across a wide number of users in academia and government. That HPC to enterprise leap happened naturally for them, he says, as hybrid scale-out NAS has taken root in more commercial HPC environments where current legacy-based approaches are increasingly overextended and difficult to manage.

Among the new commercial HPC and analytics users Panasas has managed to capture are companies in aerospace, life sciences, and media/entertainment. “These are usually design and simulation workflows,” says Noer, “which by definition is HPC, but it’s for enterprise customers.” These newer users for Panasas are seeking to overcome critical barriers that a truly scale-out architecture can provide, and now, with the today’s release of their updated storage operating system, PanFS 5.5 release, they can provide a single namespace to let users in Windows-heavy enterprise shops tap into Windows and Linux seamlessly. This Microsoft tie-in is the result of two years of development to get the two to play nicely together within their storage environment and to ensure continued certification through Microsoft’s Communication Protocol Program. Such development sounds rather expensive, but Panasas says that there are no plans to change pricing to reflect the extra Microsoft hoop-jumping.

According to Noer, the lengthy process through Microsoft’s channels will be useful for both their traditional HPC center users and the enterprise customers they’re seeking to reach. “If you look at a large cluster, it’s running Linux for the ultra high performance part, but it you look at what an engineer or researcher is running on a workstation, or they’re working with multiple applications on Windows or Linux, this becomes very important.”

Panasas is being realistic about the performance issues related to Windows for commercial HPC customers, noting that even with this PanFS 5.5 update with new windows open, the highest performance workflows stay in a Linux environment. “The current Windows protocol can’t hit the performance levels of our DirectFlow protocol in Linux, but that’s inherent to the protocol itself,” said Noer. The key is that the interoperability is “enterprise-grade” which to Panasas, means that the the handshaking between the Active Directory and the storage system to keep track of users and groups has to be seamless and up to Microsoft standards.

These added Windows to new opportunities are open wider with a scale-out NAS approach that does some interesting things between leveraging SATA and SSDs for the purposes they were designed for via ActiveStor 14, their latest integrated hardware update.

actstordetails

The key to what Panasas is doing on the macro level (with ActiveStor and PanFS in harmony) is taking advantage of an architecture that Noer says was “designed from the ground up for technical computing workloads,” since Panasas was never “hinged on adapting to a legacy architecture.”He points to the widely-used NetApp approach in commercial environments as an example of this legacy problem, pointing to the way that users are pushed into adding filer heads to push performance. While this may work, what users end up with are several storage pools that are difficult to manage. “It’s hard for users to get off that architecture and onto one that’s truly scaleout.”

The goal is to give users a platform that’s free from file server lag or hardware RAID showdowns by instead offering distributed elements that the IO is balanced over, which is managed with DirectFlow. This protocol lets users read and write in parallel across all those different elements instead of using older point-to-point protocols that scale simply by adding more clients.

panasascompare

The other key to what Panasas is doing is by taking metadata requests off the same data path as the large read/writes and cooking them directly onto the “Director” blades, which manage those requests while the real grunt work is saved for the storage blades that handle the big read/write demands. The goal is to allow users to scale their metadata performance separately to avoid that I/O conflict. This isn’t entirely new—Lustre and GPFS manage things essentially the same way, but the difference here, at least according to Noer, is the orchestration at the PanFS level.

“When you look at the HPC space, you had software-only file systems that could provide great performance, but the kind of reliability, high availability and manageability of something fully integrated. Then you also have the top tier storage vendors who don’t have the performance levels needed for HPC, even if they’re able to provide the enterprise-grade features. We’re trying to do all of that in one place,” says Noer.

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!

IBM Launches Commercial Quantum Network with Samsung, ORNL

December 14, 2017

In the race to commercialize quantum computing, IBM is one of several companies leading the pack. Today, IBM announced it had signed JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Samsung and a number of other corporations to its IBM Q Net Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

TACC Researchers Test AI Traffic Monitoring Tool in Austin

December 13, 2017

Traffic jams and mishaps are often painful and sometimes dangerous facts of life. At this week’s IEEE International Conference on Big Data being held in Boston, researchers from TACC and colleagues will present a new Read more…

By HPCwire Staff

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in what has become an overwhelmingly two-socket landscape in the d Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Explore the Origins of Space with COSMOS and Memory-Driven Computing

From the formation of black holes to the origins of space, data is the key to unlocking the secrets of the early universe. Read more…

Microsoft Wants to Speed Quantum Development

December 12, 2017

Quantum computing continues to make headlines in what remains of 2017 as several tech giants jockey to establish a pole position in the race toward commercialization of quantum. This week, Microsoft took the next step in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Launches Commercial Quantum Network with Samsung, ORNL

December 14, 2017

In the race to commercialize quantum computing, IBM is one of several companies leading the pack. Today, IBM announced it had signed JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Wins Another: Baidu to Deploy EPYC on Single Socket Servers

December 13, 2017

When AMD introduced its EPYC chip line in June, the company said a portion of the line was specifically designed to re-invigorate a single socket segment in wha Read more…

By John Russell

Microsoft Wants to Speed Quantum Development

December 12, 2017

Quantum computing continues to make headlines in what remains of 2017 as several tech giants jockey to establish a pole position in the race toward commercializ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Iron, Soft, Data, People – It Takes an Ecosystem!

December 11, 2017

Cutting edge advanced computing hardware (aka big iron) does not stand by itself. These computers are the pinnacle of a myriad of technologies that must be care Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Microsoft Spins Cycle Computing into Core Azure Product

December 5, 2017

Last August, cloud giant Microsoft acquired HPC cloud orchestration pioneer Cycle Computing. Since then the focus has been on integrating Cycle’s organization Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE In-Memory Platform Comes to COSMOS

November 30, 2017

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is on a mission to accelerate space research. In August, it sent the first commercial-off-the-shelf HPC system into space for testing Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

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

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue 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

Leading Solution Providers

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

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