Now, That's a Cluster!


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Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) is pushing the envelope with a new storage cluster that mates 115TB of networked disk with a massive cluster of 600 dual Pentium 4 servers.

Mark Seagar, assistant department head for terascale systems, says the project tackles several advanced storage issues.

Key is Lustre, a Linux clustering technology under development by LLNL; Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs; and Cluster File Systems, Inc., Mountain View, CA. Using a metadata server, Lustre stripes data in the same object format that the simulations generate. The storage servers, 64 BlueArc Si7500s, handle block level translation, aided by firmware enhancements. The San Jose, CA-based BlueArc uses hardware-assisted protocol processing, which enables writes of 5GB/s over Gigabit Ethernet to the storage cluster.

Ultimately, a second cluster for visualization will address the same data. Lustre provides data sharing (without data duplication) by both sets of applications and servers, difficult with today's technology.

LLNL evaluated NFS technology, but Segar said the limits on data sharing and performance were not encouraging. The project will need to scale well beyond this current phase and LLNL feels BlueArc technology can do that.

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This was first published in June 2002

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