Voltaire Sees Big Future for Storage in Grids

InfiniBand gear maker Voltaire Monday unveiled several products to improve
storage networking on clusters and grids, including parallel file systems
and clustered network-attached storage (NAS) over InfiniBand.

The new infrastructure epitomizes Voltaire’s desire to pare costs associated
with storage while boosting the application processing power across every
server in a cluster, using the speedy InfiniBand
interconnect technology to do so.

Voltaire and rivals TopSpin and InfiniCon are using
InfiniBand, which moves data at 30 gigabits per second, to shuttle
information across computer systems faster.

Voltaire designed the new products to solve the frequent bottlenecks
associated with storage in high-performance computing (HPC) environments,
according to Arun Jain, vice president of marketing.

Jain said Voltaire, which makes high-performance interconnects for grids and
clusters to power applications on commodity platforms, is looking to expand
its sphere of influence at a time when 300 of the top 500 supercomputers in
the world (according to the Top500 list) are clusters. He also said grids
and clusters are replacing large, monolithic servers.

“What we have been working on is to come up with storage solutions that are
just as powerful as the interconnect solutions on the clustering side, and
that’s what we’re launching here today,” Jain told internetnews.com.

NAS Cluster and File Systems

Voltaire has developed a NAS cluster for customers who need
large file systems to house their data, providing access to a unified
namespace up to 16 petabytes in size. The product, geared to let
customers replace proprietary NAS devices with a small NAS cluster of higher
performance, combines Terrascale’s TerraGrid — software
that transforms standard Linux file systems into parallel file systems — and Voltaire’s
interconnect gear.

Voltaire has also integrated its grid interconnect technology with multiple
parallel file systems. Parallel systems are valued for their ability to
allow nodes to talk to each other to perform tasks. With InfiniBand and
parallel systems, Voltaire’s new product allows nodes to talk at 250
megabytes per second, up from 40 Mbps.

For the open source community, Jain said Voltaire has put together
Parallel Virtual File System 2 (PVFS2), a new, clustered file system that
facilitates input/output for large HPC clusters.

PVFS2 uses a stateless design that reduces the risk of multiple failures and
the resources required for clustering many nodes. Customers can use
Voltaire’s grid interconnect to deploy file systems that can scale to
thousands of nodes, storing multiple petabytes of files.

PVFS2, combined with a 128-node Voltaire InfiniBand cluster, is being used
by scientists in large applications at the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

In a commercial instance, Voltaire’s grid interconnect technology is being
used with Terrascale’s TerraGrid parallel I/O platform.

“While the vendor community has done a decent job in solving the file I/O
problem using proprietary technologies, Voltaire is enabling the creation of
massive clusters using industry standard platforms and technologies, such as
iSCSI RDMA and InfiniBand, for both block and file I/O,” said The Taneja
Group analyst Arun Taneja.

Virtualization Gains Legs

In other product news, Voltaire introduced new Fibre Channel
and IP routers to provide high-performance I/O and
resource virtualization for large clusters and grids that use InfiniBand.

Jain said the company’s I/O virtualization routers integrate with Voltaire’s
ISR 9288 and ISR 6000 switches to enable a variety of storage solutions for
large HPC clusters and grids.

The I/O virtualization routers and Voltaire’s InfiniBand switches allow a
cluster’s storage file I/O, block I/O and networking traffic to be shared so
that all of the server, storage and networking resources appear as pools of
resources, a foundation for on-demand computing.

Meanwhile, Voltaire’s new Fibre Channel routers enable SAN
connectivity for servers that support InfiniBand, eliminating the need for
FC HBA adapters while also providing higher throughput to FC

The Voltaire IP router enables HPC and network applications to connect compute
clusters and IP-based NAS storage to improve network performance. Lastly,
the Voltaire IBNetBoot is a remote network boot product for diskless
InfiniBand clusters.

Voltaire IBNetBoot provides a pre-boot execution environment (PXE) that can
load an image over the InfiniBand network from a central location using TFTP
and IPoIB protocols, as well as execute the content of the image. With it, customers
can move to diskless environments to cut time for deployment costs
associated with running clusters.

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