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High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters are created to provide extreme computational power to large scale applications. This computational power often results in the creation of very large amounts of data as well as very large individual files. For quite some time now , the speed of processors and memory have risen sharply, but the performance of I/O systems has lagged behind.

While processors and memory have improved in cost/performance exponentially over the last 20 years, disk drives still essentially spin at the same speeds, and drive access times are still measured in numbers of milliseconds. As such, poor I/O performance can severely degrade the overall performance of even the fastest of clusters. This is especially true of today’s multi-petabyte clusters.


With Lustre in use it’s common to see end-to-end data throughput over GigE networks in excess of 110 MB/sec, InfiniBand double data rate (DDR) links reach bandwidths up to 1.5 GB/sec, InfiniBand Quad Data Rate (QDR) links reach over 2.5 GB/sec, and 10GigE interfaces provide end-to-end bandwidth of over 1 GB/sec. Lustre can scale to tens of thousands of clients. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory and their production Spider file system, Spider, runs Lustre runs with over 25,000 clients, over 10PB of storage, and achieves an aggregate IO throughput of 240 GB/sec.