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Flash Technology in HPC Accelerates Research Discovery

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Flash Technology in HPC Accelerates Research Discovery

Intel® Xeon® processor E5 series and Intel® Solid-State Drives help to improve the research discovery of the computational chemist and biologist.

Introduction
SDSC is a leader in data-intensive computing, providing resources, services and expertise to the national research community including industry and academia. The mission of SDSC is to extend the reach of scientific accomplishments by providing tools such as high-performance hardware technologies, integrative software technologies, and deep interdisciplinary expertise to these communities. In 2012 SDSC deployed Gordon, the first HPC cluster to use flash on a massive scale. Gordon was built by Appro International, which has HPC deployments in universities, government research labs, and companies around the world.

The I/O Challenge
Today, many scientific and data intensive applications are characterized by data access patterns that are random in nature, or where there is a high frequency of very small transactions. Conventional HPC architectures, which provide large scale parallel file systems (e.g., Lustre*) built on spinning disk technology, are not well-suited for this type of I/O. The associated file system and mechanical latencies are simply too high to support the I/O transactions as applications move data between the parallel file system and the CPU.

Solution
Gordon inserts a new layer in the memory hierarchy by deploying 300 TB of Intel® SSD 710 Series flash between the parallel file system and the compute nodes. Sixty four Intel Westmere I/O nodes, each with 16 Intel 710 Series SSDs provide users with a resource that can be used as fast scratch space, or as persistent storage for database and analytics application.

Read the fullFlash Technology in HPC Accelerates Research Discovery Case Study.