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Parallel File Systems

High performance storage goes hand-in-hand with high performance computing. Your file access performance directly impacts your computational efficiency in many cases, as more and more codes require large input data sets and generate large quantities of output data.

HPC also places unique performance and reliability demands on your storage solution. If your storage solution does not provide enough performance, your computation will be slowed, or even blocked while waiting for file access. If your storage solutions reliability is not high enough, you can lose computing time or even precious data. The following are some of our top supported parallel file systems:

Lustre File System

Lustre is an open-source parallel file system and is used in some of the largest HPC clusters in the world due to its high performance and scalability. Lustre utilizes the following concepts and components to present a unified Lustre file system; Management Server (MGS), Management Target (MGT), Metadata Servers (MDS), Metadata Targets (MDT), Object Storage Servers (OSS), Object Storage Targets (OST), Lustre clients.

MDS makes metadata available to clients via MDTs. So each MDS manages names and directories in the Lustre file system, and provides network connectivity for one or more MDTs, which are local to the MDS. MDTs store metadata (filenames, directories, permissions), and there is only one MDT per Lustre file system.

OSS provides I/O and network connectivity for one or more local OSTs. The OST stores the actual file data on one or more OSSs. A single Lustre file system can have many OSTs, and you can stripe across many OSTs for performance using a Logical Object Volume (LOV).

There is a lot of flexibility regarding where the MDT or OSTs are located, but normally, an OSS has four or more OSTs, and the MDS is separated for performance. Meta-data is one of the most critical and limiting factors in a Lustre file system. Some configurations place the metadata on flash storage to increase speed and lower latency.

Lustre does have high availability features, such as active/active OSSs with SAN connectivity to shared disks, and fail-over MDS systems. One interesting reliability feature that Lustre implements, and that other parallel file systems do not, is that the Lustre client does not directly write to the file system served by the OST. Instead, the OSS does the file system modifications. This can isolate the file system from incorrectly configured or defective clients, and forms an additional layer of protection against file system corruption.

Aspen partners with Intel® to offer Intel® Lustre solutions to our clients.

Panasas File System

Panasas is an advanced hybrid scale-out parallel file system that scales linearly to maximize aggregate throughput which makes it an ideal choice in technical computing environments. These systems are easily expanded by their modular approach using storage shelves called ActiveStor®.

Panasas ActiveStor® shelves consist of director and storage blades. Director blades control file system activity outside of the data path, and also virtualizes data objects across storage blades while providing a global name space along with unified management capabilities. Storage blades use SSDs to deliver maximum metadata performance and large capacity HDDs to store user and application data as objects to ensure optimal performance and reliability.

The PanFS file system developed by Panasas allows a pNFS server to be layered on top of PanFS without a protocol gateway which eliminates traditonal NAS bottlenecks Panasas supports multiple protocols (Panasas DirectFlow, NFS, and CIFS) which increases the flexibility of the solution.