Tackling Big Data Storage Problems with Site-Wide Storage

May 19, 2014

When it comes to storage problems, no one is exempt. The exponential growth of scientific and technical big data is not only having a major impact on HPC storage infrastructures at the world’s largest organizations, but at small-to medium-sized companies as well.

The stumbling blocks at large organizations are highly visible. Over the years the government labs, educational institutions and major enterprises have built up complex and often highly dispersed storage infrastructures. They are characterized by numerous, distributed file systems running on multiple HPC systems.

As a result, storage silos have become the norm. Just some of the consequences are limited access to data, high latency, and increased storage, maintenance and retrieval costs. In particular, these IT infrastructures have a difficult time handling either planned or unexpected peak period loads brought on by activities like checkpointing or unanticipated user demand.

Site-Wide Storage at NERSC

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) is an excellent example of how a major institution can solve these thorny storage problems.

More than 5,000 scientists use NERSC’s computational facilities every year. They are performing scientific research for as many as 700 topics spanning such fields as solar energy, bioinformatics, fusion science, astrophysics, climate science and more. The Center currently has six state of the art computer systems and advanced storage systems. Included is “Edison,” a Cray XC30 with a peak performance of over two petaflops.

Since 2006, NERSC has had to continuously address its storage problems and recently the pace has quickened. Typically, up to 400 researchers a day from all over the world were using the Center to handle hundreds of high-bandwidth applications to access, analyze and share research data. Because the facility relied on a multiple different file systems, delivering an optimum balance of capacity and throughput was a major problem.

“We were constantly moving data around within the center to ensure we had sufficient storage to handle new project growth while keeping our existing users happy,” says Jason Hick, group leader, storage systems for NERSC. “It took an inordinate amount of time and created an enormous amount of network traffic.”

Hick’s team debated the merits of deploying additional storage or moving to a centralized solution designed to meet both present and anticipated future growth. They opted for the latter.

Says Hick, “NERSC was a pioneer in moving away from local storage in favor of site-wide Global File systems and consolidated storage architecture.” He adds that performance and efficiency were the primary drivers for adopting a site-wide storage architecture.

DDN Storage Solution

At the heart of the solution is DataDirect Networks Storage Fusion Architecture® (SFA), which provides all the functionality needed to ingest, analyze and archive big data on a single platform.

This approach allows NERSC to deploy a centralized storage capability that can accommodate the requirements of the largest computer system on the network – including peak period bursts – as well meeting the storage needs of the Center’s other five systems. And when the ultra powerful NERSC 8 supercomputer “Cori” is installed in mid-2016, it will make full use of the scalable site-wide storage infrastructure.

Hick reports that the cost of the centralized infrastructure is 30 percent less than a local file system, with savings running into several hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Scratch” storage costs have been cut by more than 50 percent.

NERSC is just one of several large organizations that have moved to site-wide storage solutions based on DDN technology. Included are Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

But the benefits of site-wide storage solution are not the exclusive domain of these big government labs and major institutions. Smaller sites may not have the resources to buy, deploy and manage infrastructure on the scale of TACC or an ORNL, but they can still enjoy the benefits of site wide storage.  One very successful approach is to “converge” parallel file systems and other applications with storage to create centralized storage building blocks that provide higher performance and lower latency. At the same time, this solution also offers ease of purchase, deployment and management.

Dealing with Big Data at the University of Florida

The University of Florida is a good example. Its Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research (ICBR) has been in a rapid growth mode, generating increasing amounts of data as it adds new equipment such as next generation sequencers and Cryo-electron microscopy instruments. To handle this growth, ICBR wanted a flexible, low footprint, and simplified infrastructure that could scale as needed.

The Center chose DDN’s converged infrastructure (DDN In-Storage Processing™) which allows users to embed parallel file sysytems and key applications inside the storage controller. This approach has allowed the ICBR to eliminate data access latency as well as the need for additional servers, cabling, network switches and adapters, while reducing administrative overhead. Balanced storage and faster application burst performance means that big data applications perform at optimal levels.

The solution provides the performance and advanced capabilities needed to handle its rapidly growing next generation sequencing projects with their constantly changing application loads.

ICBR’s experience shows how a mid-range organization with limited resources can enjoy a satisfactory site-wide storage solution. The Center has deployed an adaptive and customizable architecture for storing, managing and analyzing large collections of distributed data running to billions of files and petabytes of storage across tens of federated data grids.

Optimized Storage for All

As the University of Florida and the NERSC examples demonstrate, the benefits of site-wide, optimized storage are available to organizations both large and small. DDN, the HPC storage leader is showing the way.

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!

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 L 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 Blue Ribbon and Harley Davidson motorcycles the agenda addresse Read more…

By Merle Giles

NSF Awards $10M to Extend Chameleon Cloud Testbed Project

September 19, 2017

The National Science Foundation has awarded a second phase, $10 million grant to the Chameleon cloud computing testbed project led by University of Chicago with partners at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), Ren 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…

NERSC Simulations Shed Light on Fusion Reaction Turbulence

September 19, 2017

Understanding fusion reactions in detail – particularly plasma turbulence – is critical to the effort to bring fusion power to reality. Recent work including roughly 70 million hours of compute time at the National E Read more…

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 s 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 “Breakt 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

Cubes, Culture, and a New Challenge: Trish Damkroger Talks about Life at Intel—and Why HPC Matters More Than Ever

September 13, 2017

Trish Damkroger wasn’t looking to change jobs when she attended SC15 in Austin, Texas. Capping a 15-year career within Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories, she was acting Associate Director for Computation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Her mission was to equip the lab’s scientists and research partners with resources that would advance their cutting-edge work... Read more…

By Jan Rowell

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

MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab Targets Algorithms, AI Physics

September 7, 2017

Investment continues to flow into artificial intelligence research, especially in key areas such as AI algorithms that promise to move the technology from speci Read more…

By George Leopold

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

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

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 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

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

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