An SSD Supercomputer?

Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2014 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: supercomputer, solid state drive, NSF, flash memory

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We know that SSD's help any system perform better by reducing the storage bottlenecks we all experienced from hard disk drives. But how far can flash storage go in increasing performance if money is no object?? Enter the multi-million dollar world of supercomputers. Historically supercomputers have relied on the addition of more CPU cores to increase performance, but two new system projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will try a different approach: obscene amounts of high-speed flash storage!

The news comes as the NSF is requesting a cool $7 billion in research money for 2015, and construction has apparently already begun on two new storage-centered supercomputers. Memory and high-speed flash storage arrays will be loaded on the Wrangler supercomputer at Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), and the Comet supercomputer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

Check out the crazy numbers from the TACC's Wrangler: a combination of 120 servers, each with Haswell-based Xeon CPU's, and a total of 10 petabytes (10,000TB!) of high performance flash data storage. The NSF says the supercomputer will have 3,000 processing cores dedicated to data analysis, with flash storage layers for analytics. The Wrangler supercomputer's bandwidth is said to be 1TB/s, with 275 million IOPS! By comparison, the Comet supercomputer will have “only” 1,024 Xeon CPU cores, with a 7 petabyte high-speed flash storage array. (Come on, guys... That’s like, wayyy less bytes.)

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Supercomputer under construction…probably (Image credit CBS/Paramount)

The supercomputers are part of the NSF's “Extreme Digital” (XD) research program, and their current priorities are "relevant to the problems faced in computing today”. Hmm, kind of makes you want to run a big muilti-SSD deathwish RAID, huh?