HP's Product Yields up to 100 Times More Bandwidth for Linux Clusters

6/28/2004 - HP announced a breakthrough file sharing product that uses new Linux clustering technology to deliver up to 100 times more bandwidth than typical clusters.(1) The new product, HP StorageWorks Scalable File Share (HP SFS), is a self-contained file server that enables bandwidth to be shared by distributing files in parallel across clusters of industry-standard server and storage components.

The product is the second based on HP's "storage grid" architecture and the first commercial research product to use a new Linux clustering technology, called Lustre, which was developed through collaboration between HP, the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and Cluster File Systems, Inc.(2)

Targeted initially for high-performance computing (HPC), HP SFS allows applications to see a single file system image regardless of the number of servers or storage devices connected to it. Built using industry-standard HP ProLiant servers and HP StorageWorks disk arrays, HP SFS provides protection from hardware failures through resilient, redundant hardware and built-in fail-over and recovery.

Tuned for ease of use and manageability, the system can span dozens to thousands of clustered Linux servers - making it dramatically easier to run distributed applications for challenging science and engineering needs.

The Lustre protocol used in HP SFS is already running in some of the world's most demanding HPC environments, such as the one found at the DoE Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). It helps to eliminate input/output (I/O) bandwidth bottlenecks and saves users hours of time copying files across hundreds or thousands of individual, distributed file systems.

The DoE selected HP to provide program management, development, test engineering, hardware and services to support the Lustre project. HP is the only major vendor to offer a supported and case-hardened Lustre-based file share product.

"HP's Lustre implementation on our supercomputer allows us to achieve faster, more accurate analysis," said Scott Studham, associate director for Advanced Computing, PNNL. "This translates into faster time-to-solution and better science for our researchers, who are addressing complex problems in energy, national security, the environment and life sciences."

Lustre technology has been in use at PNNL for more than a year on one of the 10 largest Linux clusters in the world.(3) PNNL's HP Linux super cluster, with more than 1,800 Intel® Itanium® 2 processors, is rated at more than 11 teraflops (one teraflop equals one trillion floating point operations per second) and sustains more than 3.2 gigabytes per second of bandwidth running production loads on a single 53-terabyte Lustre-based file share. Individual Linux clients are able to write data to the parallel Lustre servers at more than 650 megabytes per second. The system is designed to make the enormous PNNL cluster centralized, easy to use and manage, and simple to expand.

Studham also noted that Lustre scales the high-bandwidth I/O needed to match the large data files produced and consumed by the laboratory's scalable simulations. HP has worked with PNNL to help ensure Lustre is reliable, stable and cost-effective. "We are confident in the Lustre file system's ability to prevent loss of data," said Studham.

"HP SFS demonstrates HP's commitment to using industry-standard and open technologies to meet the requirements of our most demanding customers and to ensure maximum long-term customer value, simplicity and agility," said Winston Prather, vice president and general manager, High Performance Technical Computing, HP. "HP SFS combines accessible, open source technology with a well-engineered HP product that solves the distributed file system I/O challenge our high-performance customers face. It also simplifies the use and administration of Linux clusters, provides faster processing and a higher return on investment."

HP SFS builds upon HP’s solid position in the high-performance cluster market. IDC has again ranked HP as the market revenue leader in the high-performance computing market for 2003. The market research firm’s “Worldwide High Performance Midrange, and Technical Server Qview” report shows that HP commands 32.2 percent revenue share and leads across three of the four segments tracked, including HPTC enterprise, divisional and departmental. HP owns the top position in IDC’s report for the second consecutive year and edged ahead of IBM in the divisional segment in this latest report.

HP StorageWorks grid enables HP SFS
HP SFS follows introduction this May of the HP StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System (RISS), an all-in-one archive and retrieval solution for storing, indexing and rapidly retrieving reference information based on the HP StorageWorks grid architecture.

This standards-based architecture allows storage services, such as HP SFS, to be delivered across a massively scalable, centrally managed system. It divides storage, indexing, search and retrieval tasks across a distinct set of computing nodes or storage "smart cells" that cooperate to form a single shared file system.

Each smart cell is composed of interconnected, self-contained, low-cost, high-density computing and storage devices. HP SFS smart cells running the Lustre protocol work in parallel with other smart cells on a shared storage grid to deliver extensive scalability and provide unprecedented levels of computing bandwidth.

The initial HP SFS offering includes two classes of smart cell configurations, one with highly resilient StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array storage and another with lower priced StorageWorks Modular Smart Array storage. Additional classes of storage are planned to be added to HP SFS as the HP StorageWorks grid strategy expands.

These smart cells can be connected to each other and to the Lustre clients (compute clusters) with standard 10-100 or Gb Ethernet. Additionally, customers can use higher speed message-passing interconnects, including InfiniBand, Myrinet and Quadrics ELAN4.

The HP SFS servers are factory assembled, pre-configured, pre-cabled, pre-tested in clustered I/O racks, and ready to run the Lustre software with the HP SFS added-value installation, maintenance, monitoring and administration tools.

More information is available at http://www.hp.com/go/technicalstorage.

About HP
HP is a technology solutions provider to consumers, businesses and institutions globally. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. For the four fiscal quarters ended April 30, 2004, HP revenue totaled $76.8 billion. More information about HP (NYSE, Nasdaq: HPQ) is available at http://www.hp.com.

(1) HP StorageWorks Scalable File Share delivers up to 100 times more bandwidth when compared to Network File System (NFS), the current de-facto standard for sharing files across a network.
(2) Cluster File Systems, Inc. (CFS) is the principal developer of the Lustre architecture and code base. HP and CFS cooperate to support Lustre and advance the adoption of its open technology.
(3) http://www.top500.org

Lustre is a trademark of Cluster File Systems, Inc. Intel and Itanium are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries.

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