New supercomputer uses SSDs instead of DRAM and hard drives
The new supercomputer, called Catalyst, has 281TB of SSD storage
IDG News Service - A new supercomputer being deployed this month in the U.S. is using solid-state drive storage as an alternative to DRAM and hard drives, which could help speed up internal data transfers.
The supercomputer, called Catalyst, will be deployed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif. Built by the U.S. Department of Energy, Cray and Intel, the supercomputer delivers a peak performance of 150 teraflops and will be available for use starting later this month.
Catalyst has 281TB of total SSD storage. It is built as a giant computing cluster broken into 324 computing units, called "nodes" by Lawrence Livermore. Each node has two 12-core Xeon E5-2695v2 processors, for a total of 7,776 CPU cores for the supercomputer. Every node has 128GB of DRAM, and 304 of them have 800GB of solid-state drive storage. Additionally, 12 nodes have 3.2TB of SSD storage for use across the computing units.
The new supercomputer uses the open-source Lustre file system, which is designed to help break bottlenecks and improve internal throughput in distributed computing systems.
The overall performance of Catalyst is nowhere near that of the world's fastest supercomputer, Tianhe-2, which delivers a peak performance of 54.9 petaflops, but the implementation of solid-state drives as an alternative to both volatile DRAM and hard drives sets Catalyst apart.
"As processors get faster with every generation, the bottleneck gets more acute," said Mark Seager, chief technology officer for Technical Computing Group at Intel.
The throughput in the supercomputer is 512GB per second, which is equal to that of Sequoia, the third-fastest supercomputer in the world, which is also at LLNL, Seager said. Sequoia delivers peak performance of 20 petaflops.
Intel's 910 series SSDs with 800GB of storage are being used in Catalyst. The SSDs are plugged into PCI-Express 2.0 slots, the same used for graphics cards and other high-bandwidth peripherals.
Faster solid-state drives are increasingly replacing hard drives in servers to improve data access rates. SSDs are also being used in some servers as cache, or short-term storage, where data is temporarily stored for quicker processing. For instance, Facebook replaced DRAM with flash memory in a prototype server called McDipper, and is also using SSDs for long-term cold storage.
Though SSDs are more expensive than hard drives, observers say SSDs are poised for widespread enterprise adoption as they consume less energy and are becoming more reliable. SSDs are also smaller and can provide more storage in fewer servers. Samsung in August announced faster V-NAND flash storage chips that could be 10 times more durable than current flash storage.
With faster SSD storage, Catalyst is adept at solving "big data" problems, such as in bioinformatics, analytics and natural language processing, LLNL said in a statement. LLNL has developed a system so memory arrays are mapped directly to DRAM and SSDs, which helps in faster processing of serial applications like gene sequencing.
Seager said Catalyst is partly an experiment in new supercomputer designs as the nature of applications and hardware changes.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Case Study: Murphy USA Gains Application Visibility Without Agents Murphy USA has more than 700 stores that share a 10Mbps VSAT link. So when something goes wrong with their applications, it's the...
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All High Performance Computing White Papers | Webcasts