Product highlights from Supercomputing 2006

By Ann Silverthorn

—Supercomputing 2006 (SC06), an international conference focused on high-performance computing (HPC), networking, and storage, convened this week in Tampa, FL. Storage-related activities include an InfiniBand-routing demonstration and the HPC Storage Challenge, which is a competition showcasing storage systems with actual applications.

Here are some of the storage-related announcements from the show floor:

LSI Logic will display its 6498 storage system, which features native InfiniBand connectivity and is based on LSI Logic's XBB architecture. The 6498 is designed for environments that use InfiniBand-based Linux server clusters for high-bandwidth applications and complex processing. Some of these environments include energy, defense and intelligence, biosciences, engineering analysis, and scientific research and development. The 6498 will be demonstrated at the following booths: Cisco, Mellanox, QLogic, Scinet NOC, SGI, and Sun.

In addition to showcasing the company's InfiniBand solutions, LSI Logic will also demonstrate its Fibre Channel and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) technology. Its PCI-Express SAS adapter portfolio, in addition to MegaRAID and HBAs featuring PCI Express host interfaces, will be on display.

Mellanox Technologies introduced ConnectX, its fourth-generation adapter architecture that extends InfiniBand by incorporating connectivity to 1Gbps and 10Gbps Ethernet fabrics. The ConnectX architecture will enable products that support up to 40Gbps InfiniBand data rates (initial products support 10Gbps and 20Gbps) with latencies as low as 1 microsecond. The architecture supports protocols using IPv4 or IPv6, TCP/IP, sockets, and MPI, SCSI, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel.

Texas Memory Systems has made available solid-state disks with InfiniBand connectivity to complement the low latency and high bandwidth of the InfiniBand interface. The solid-state disks can operate in pure InfiniBand and mixed InfiniBand and Fibre Channel interconnect environments. Solid-state disks can be used in HPC environments to accelerate metadata for large file systems, accelerate scratch space, and store data for bandwidth and I/O-intensive applications.

ConnectX allows data-center managers to provide connections to any host or storage resource, including InfiniBand and 10Gbps Ethernet systems. The architecture also implements I/O channel-based services via remote direct memory access (RDMA) and transport offload protocols supported by the OpenFabrics Alliance.

The OpenFabrics Alliance is demonstrating the OpenFabrics Enterprise Distribution (OFED) 1.1 high-performance Ethernet/InfiniBand software stack to power the SC06 conference-wide SCinet Network, which is enabling exhibitors to demonstrate their technology across transport-independent 10Gbps and 20Gbps fabrics. OFED 1.1 is the second release of a multi-vendor qualified InfiniBand software stack with added enterprise reliability and fail-over capabilities.

The OpenFabrics Alliance will also provide an alpha version of the iWARP (RDMA over Ethernet) branch of the OpenFabrics software stack for exhibitors showcasing demonstrations over the 10Gbps Ethernet SCinet fabric. The OFA software stack is Linux-based.

A multi-protocol fabric demonstration by System Fabric Works will include the SCSI remote protocol (SRP), iSCSI over RDMA (iSER), NFS-RDMA, and a distributed parallel file system (LUSTRE).

Fujitsu Computer Products announced its new XG2000 switch series, which is the third generation of the company's Layer 2, non-blocking, single-chip 10Gbps Ethernet solution. The XG2000 succeeds the Fujitsu XG1200 switch, which was originally released in North America in November 2005. The new XG2000 family offers port-to-port latency of 300ns while delivering 400Gbps throughput. The XG2000 series is available as either a 20-port XFP optical solution or in 16 CX4 ports with an additional four ports of XFP optics in a 1U form factor.

Applied Micro Circuits Corporation (AMCC) is demonstrating high-performance, high-capacity SATA II RAID solutions for HPC platforms. AMCC will demonstrate its technology in a RAID-6 performance shoot-out that pits 8-port versions of AMCC's 3ware 9650SE against a competing SATA II RAID controller. The SATA controllers will attach to 750GB, 7,200rpm drives from Seagate and will run multi-stream workloads to simulate real-world application environments.

AMCC's demonstration will include an 24TB Advanced Industrial Computer (AIC) SATA II storage system featuring three 16-port 3ware 9650SE controllers and 48 SATA II 500GB disk drives from Hitachi Data Systems.

Rackable Systems announced the availability of its new RapidScaleT SA3100 cluster file system storage appliance, which has been optimized for Linux environments. RapidScale appliances are designed to eliminate performance bottlenecks with NAS products and can scale linearly in both capacity and performance. The appliance adds 8TB of storage capacity and up to 200MBps of performance. RapidScale systems leverage cluster file system software from Rackable Systems' recent acquisition of Terrascale Technologies.

DataDirect Networks unveiled the S2A Petascale Storage Solution, which is designed for high-performance, high-capacity applications, delivering gigabytes-per-second to terabytes-per-second aggregate I/O performance and petabytes of capacity. The S2A Petascale Storage Solution is based on DataDirect's Silicon Storage Appliance technology and will integrate the S2A Technology with parallel or shared cluster file systems and storage servers into a turnkey solution. The S2A Petascale system supports Fibre Channel or SATA disks, with native InfiniBand and/or FC-4 storage interconnects.

Capricorn Technologies released the newest member of its PetaBox family—the PowerStore. Like the PetaBox GB series, the PowerStor provides raw capacity ranging from 1TB to 3TB in a 1U form factor. Equipped with SATA drives, Gigabit Ethernet connections, and support for hardware RAID, the PowerStore delivers read/write speed up to 8x faster than the GB series.

This article was originally published on November 14, 2006