HP Aims for Faster, Cheaper Linux Clusters

By Clint Boulton (Send Email)
Posted Jun 21, 2005


HP  has upgraded its storage file system software to transfer and store more data at a faster rate on Linux clusters. The systems vendor has upped the ante with its storage file system software, boosting bandwidth and performance.

The product, HP StorageWorks Scalable File Share (HP SFS), eases bandwidth burdens by distributing files simultaneously across server and storage clusters.

SFS can span dozens to thousands of clustered Linux servers, making it ideal for distributed applications in industries such as life sciences, financial services, and digital animation.

HP SFS 2.0 is even more powerful. The software shuttles data up to three times the bandwidth (or 35 GB per second), than version 1.0, said Kent Koeninger, product manager for HP high performance computing and technology group.

It also handles double the capacity at 512 TB and now uses Voltaire's InfiniBand interconnect technology, as well as gigabit Ethernet, to transfer data across machines.

Koeninger said the Palo Alto, Calif., company has cut the starter costs for SFS 2.0 in half, to $44,000, to help smaller enterprises afford large-scale file sharing utilities. HP was able to do this by cutting the number of ProLiant or Integrity and StorageWorks disk arrays the system needs to perform.

"We were able to reduce what it costs to get into the system by half," Koeninger said. "We found [the original list price of $80,000 to $90,000] to be too high a threshold for people to kick the tires."

HP SFS 2.0 runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux versions 3 and 4 Fedora; SUSE Linux Enterprise Server version 9, among others. The product will be available for purchase in July.

The new performance perks are important at a time when compliance regulations order corporations to save and recall files.

Most global file systems cannot support today's computing demands because many Linux clusters use older input/output data transfer techniques, such as Network File System. SFS is built to leave traditional file systems from IBM and Sun behind, according to Koeninger. Start-ups like Panasas and Ibrix make competing object-based cluster file systems.

The first version of SFS was launched around this time last year. The software is based on HP StorageWorks Grid architecture, which is one of the reasons why it is able to zip data along: The software scans three billion files in three seconds.

StorageWorks Grid divides storage, indexing, search and retrieval tasks across a set of computing nodes or storage "smart cells." Each smart cell acts as a storage server that works in parallel with other smart cells on the grid, delivering info in real time.

HP SFS customer Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network, a Canadian academic research network, recently purchased four new high performance computing (HPC) clusters as part of a $20 million contract. The group integrated 480 terabytes in HP SFS systems.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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