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HPC User Site Census: Storage

by Christopher G. Willard, Ph.D., Laura Segervall, Addison Snell, Debra Goldfarb
for Intersect360 Research (originally published under the Tabor Research name)
June 2008

This third report in our Site Census series provides an examination of the storage characteristics and capacity found at a sample of HPC user sites. We surveyed a broad range of users about their current computer system installations, storage systems, networks, middleware, and software supporting these computer installations. The initial two reports, HPC User Site Census: Systems, and HPC User Site Census: Processors focused on server suppliers, server node characteristics, and processors-related trends.1

Our goal in this analysis of storage systems is to examine storage usage within the HPC user communities and explore how this usage varies based on categories such as storage capacity and its location, storage supplier, storage network, etc.

Key findings of the survey include the following:

  • Approximately 37% of the total maximum available storage resides on servers with 17% at the node level and 20% at the system level. The remaining 63% of storage is found at the site level generally on NAS or SAN systems. On average, 288GB of storage resides at the site level on a storage system.
  • About 78% of the 69 respondents have at least one site level storage system installed. No vendor dominates the storage system market for HPC sites. EMC has the largest share with 12.7%. However, “in-house” or “generic” solutions account for 14% of the storage systems installed. We see this last value as reflecting the commodity nature of storage components and the availability of open software for storage systems.
  • NAS (Networked-Attached storage) and SAN (Storage Area Network) had almost equal representation in the surveyed HPC sites. Commercial sites are more likely to have a NAS storage system while academic sites are more likely to have a SAN storage system.
  • Majority of NAS storage systems are connected using 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Only 11% of the systems were connected to a 10 Gigabit network of any type.
  • Most storage management software in use by these sites was provided by the storage system vendor. Very little penetration by add-on storage management suppliers was reported.

1Future reports will deal with interconnects, operating systems, and software individually.



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