Los Alamos tries object-based storage

FRAMINGHAM (10/20/2003) - Los Alamos National Laboratory Monday plans to announce that it's installing a 1,400-node Linux cluster that uses a new object-based file system technology for data storage.

Gary Grider, manager of scalable I/O systems at Los Alamos, said the lab will use start-up Panasas Inc.'s network-attached storage (NAS) technology to spread file management capabilities across commodity servers while still achieving high levels of computing power and I/O throughput.

Grider added that the ActiveScale device gives him 4GB/sec. throughput and the ability to store up to 600TB on the planned cluster, which will be used to run simulations of nuclear weapons tests.

Fremont, California-based Panasas plans to introduce ActiveScale today in conjunction with the Los Alamos announcement. Unlike conventional NAS products, which store metadata apart from files, object-based devices like ActiveStage break files into chunks that include file data, metadata and other information, such as quality-of-service details. Proponents said the technology should speed up the process of accessing files.

Arun Taneja, an analyst at Taneja Group Inc. in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, said that with the market for Linux-based server clusters on the rise, object-based storage could offer users in the scientific community almost limitless data scalability.

The Linux cluster will use Pentium-based servers priced at about US$2,000, Grider said. Los Alamos has been testing the cluster with ActiveStage for about nine months and now has the production system in place, he added.

Panasas said ActiveScale includes 10 slots for specialized blade servers, each supporting up to 500GB of storage. Pricing starts at $25,000 for a 1.6TB configuration.

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