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    LinuxHPC.org Interviews LSI's Steve Hochberg about their New Flagship Storage System for HPC
    Posted by Ken Farmer, Thursday June 19 2008 @ 08:02PM EDT

    This week at the International Supercomputing Conference in Germany, LSI introduced a new flagship storage system specifically designed for High Performance Computing (HPC) environments.

    (Press Release: LSI Storage System Brings Enterprise-Class Availability and Reliability to HPC Environments)

    The next-generation Engenio 7900 HPC storage system delivers the highest levels of data availability and very high performance across mixed HPC workloads resulting in maximum computational efficiency.

    To learn more about the system, LinuxHPC.org's Ken Farmer interviewed Steve Hochberg, Senior Director, HPC Segment, LSI Corporation.

    Q1) What is LSI announcing at the International Supercomputing Conference?
    A) LSI is introducing the Engenio 7900 HPC storage system, the newest edition to LSI’s Engenio line of storage systems. Based on the LSI seventh-generation XBB2 architecture, the 7900 HPC combines leading-edge performance and high levels of system availability for applications requiring uninterrupted data access. The next-generation system benefits from more than thirty years of LSI design knowledge and HPC expertise with over 50 petabytes deployed in HPC environments and nearly 400,000 systems shipped across a wide range of market segments.

    Q2) What makes this system ideal for HPC environments?
    A) While blazing performance will always be a critical requirement for HPC environments, uptime has become equally as important. The fastest system in the world is useless if it’s down. The 7900 HPC combines leading-edge performance for compute-intensive applications and high bandwidth workloads, with features providing high system availability for applications requiring uninterrupted data access. The 7900 HPC is engineered to deliver continuous high-speed data accessibility and protection across a wide-range of HPC workloads to meet the high volume data processing and computing demands of environments such as government labs, media and entertainment, scientific research and development, biosciences, and energy, oil and gas companies.

    Q3) What types of applications is the system best suited for?
    A) The 7900 HPC storage system is ideally suited for environments which store vast amounts of data that is utilized for high-bandwidth programs and complex application processing such as computational analysis, data-intensive research, rich media, 3-D computer modeling, seismic processing, data mining and large-scale simulation. The system enables compute-intensive applications to reliably access and process multiple terabytes of data per second to minimize the I/O cycles of these large-scale clusters.

    Q4) What new or enhanced features and functionality are offered with the 7900 HPC system?
    A) The 7900 HPC storage system provides industry-leading bandwidth of 6.4 GB/sec on sustained reads from disk. This represents a performance improvement over the previous generation of up to a 4X.The 7900 HPC also includes high availability features such as fully-redundant components and data paths with automated failover, online administration, drive health monitoring, controller cache mirroring and hardware-assisted RAID 6.

    Not only does the 7900 HPC address performance and availability, but it is also designed to seamlessly adapt to evolving infrastructure, application and capacity requirements. This system features 4Gb/s Fibre Channel (FC) and 20Gb/s InfiniBand host interface options, which are field replaceable. It also offers RAID protection levels 0, 1, 3, 5, 6 and 10 to meet the protection/performance requirements and linear scalability up to 256 FC or SATA drives.

    Subsequent releases will scale to 480 drives with support for future technologies including 8 Gb/s FC and 40 Gb/s InfiniBand. Ultimately. this results in configuration flexibility that allows customers to mix network interfaces, RAID levels and disk drives in a single system for optimized price-performance and investment protection.

    Q5) Have any customers purchased the new system?
    A) Yes, the 7900 HPC has been deployed at multiple customer sites. On September 17, 2007 a beta system consisting of more than one petabyte of storage was installed at the National Center for Computational Sciences at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Acceptance criteria were met within three days of delivery and testing will continue throughout 2008 during the next phase of the Department of Energy’s petascale initiative at ORNL.

    “Since installation of the 7900 HPC we have been impressed with the reliability and overall mature state of the product prior to general availability,” said Shane Canon, ORNL project leader. “The cache mirroring feature is a strength, as is the ability to create flexible configurations that meet the needs of a diversified cross section of processing requirements. We worked closely with LSI and were pleased with our interaction with their field and engineering staff.”

    Q6) How is the system being delivered to HPC customers?
    A) LSI storage systems are brought to market by our OEM partners. The 7900 HPC is currently being evaluated by LSI OEM partners, including SGI, the first OEM partner to market with a system based on the Engenio 7900. We can’t comment on when other OEM partners are planning to announce systems based on the 7900 storage system and XBB2 architecture.

    Q7) How does this new system fit into HPC environments that utilize InfiniBand-based Linux server clusters?
    A) The 7900 HPC allows customers to utilize existing InfiniBand infrastructures that are already a requirement for most HPC deployments requiring MPI/OpenMP. This allows for a simplification of deployed systems to maximize system availability, by reducing complexity. The LSI 7900 is fully compliant with the OFED 1.3 standard and LSI will continue to be an industry leader in the evolving InfiniBand standards.

    Q8) The new system features native interface options including InfiniBand and Fibre Channel – when is each appropriate?
    A) Fibre channel interfaces have long been the choice where single protocol high performance connectivity is needed. Fibre channel has been historically the choice for clustered, rather than parallel file systems. It combines both excellent interconnectivity and interoperability across a wide range of vendor offerings. The concept of directly attaching InfiniBand devices to HPC clusters is relatively new, primarily due to the lack of vendors providing a native (non-bridged) InfiniBand offering. LSI expects this market to grow significantly as customers realize the multi-protocol advantages that InfiniBand presents. Initially, only HPC clusters have embraced InfiniBand connected storage, but we are experiencing overwhelming interest among financial and petroleum customers.

    Visit LSI Corporation: http://www.lsi.com


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