HPC

Cray slaps an all-flash makeover on its L300 array to do HPC stuff

ClusterStor node uses slower SAS SSDs


Cray has announced the L300F, an all-flash array for high-performance computing functioning as a speed booster for ClusterStor installations.

ClusterStor is a Lustre-running, scale-out, clustered storage array with L300 disk-only and L300N hybrid flash/disk models.

As the flash array leaders build out super-fast NVMe systems the, conservative HPC array makers, buttressed by high-performance parallel file system disk arrays, enter the flash array market with comparatively slow SSD arrays.

Cray's L300F is its L300 array given an all-flash array makeover using dual-port SAS SSDs. Hosts use Ethernet, InfiniBand or OPA to access the array.

The L300F, like other L300 products, has both object storage servers and targets inside. Cray said it has a high-availability design and will scale linearly, with no performance loss, as nodes are added to the cluster.

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It delivers 500,000 IOPS from its dual-controller, 2U x 24 drive configuration. The other L300 arrays use a larger 5U x 84 slot enclosure to hold their disks. The L300F's capacity is 76.8TB using 3.2TB SSDs and 38.4TB with 1.6TB drives.

E8 and Excelero NVMe-oF arrays punch out more than a million IOPS, as does NetApp's A800, so Cray's L300F flasher is slow by their standards.

Lustre is an open-source, scalable parallel file system used for cluster computing popular in supercomputing circles. It competes with other parallel file systems such as IBM's Spectrum Scale (GPFS). The L300F will support Lustre version 2.11, also announced today.

Cray has positioned the L300F as the high-performance component in a Lustre storage pool built with capacity-focused L300s for large, sequential IO and hybrid flash/disk L300Ns for mixed, random IOs. Its primary use case is to support high IOPS rates to/from a scratch storage pool in the Lustre file system, and so speed application run time held up by slow disk IO.

The previous approach of over-provisioning disks to increase IO rates is costly and inadequate in the face of flash's much lower latency, the company said.

For Cray the L300F augments the standard HDD pool with a flash storage pool optimised for workflows needing high performance for intermediate results (IOPS) as well as storing final results (high bandwidth). With the L300F, it is claimed that system administrators can manage a single file system instead of separate ones for flash and disk.

Cray is marketing the L300F to the leadership class of supercomputing environments. With its performance numbers, it wouldn't stand much chance in business data centres compared to NVMe drive arrays and NVMe-oF-accessed arrays.

NVMe technology is also moving into the HPC area. Both E8 and Excelero's NVMe-oF storage work with Spectrum Scale in HPC environments. Intel has also worked on Lustre and NVMe storage.

Cray may well need to revisit its ClusterStor development and put in NVMe and fabric support, if they aren't already on the roadmap.

A Cray View for ClusterStor admin tool provides an end-to-end view of Lustre jobs, network status and storage system performance. It delivers information on job runtime variability, event correlation and trend analysis, and custom alerts based on selected metrics.

The ClusterStor L300F and its required Neo 3.1 ClusterStor software release should be available by the end of August. ®


Assimilation completed! HPE says it has finished the merger with Cray and unveils combo supercomputing lineup

All aboard the exascale express

Having acquired supercomputer biz Cray last year for $1.3bn, HPE on Monday said it has fully integrated the two businesses. The enterprise-oriented IT firm will offer high-performance computing under the HPE Cray supercomputing brand to address what it calls the Exascale Era.

That's reference to computing hardware capable of at least 1018 floating point operations per second, or 1 exaflop.

Two months before HPE revealed its intention to purchase Cray last year, the US Department of Energy announced plans to work with Intel and Cray to build "Aurora," the first exaflop-capable supercomputer in the US, to be delivered in 2021.

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Look at me. Look at me. I'm the El Capitan now: Cray to build US govt's $600m cray-cray exascale nuke app super

1.5 EFLOPS monster will chew through simulations, modeling, and more, when it, fingers crossed, spins up in 2023

Cray will build Uncle Sam's 1.5 exa-FLOPS El Capitan supercomputer for $600m, it was announced today.

The monster system is expected to roll off the assembly line in late 2022, and, when up and running in 2023, burn through as many as 1.5 quintillion math calculations per second, it is claimed. It will use the Shasta architecture and Slingshot interconnects developed by Cray – which is being slowly gobbled up by HPE for $1.3bn.

El Capitan will be used by the National Nuclear Security Administration, overseen by the US government's Department of Energy, to run "national nuclear security applications" that appear to involve "modeling, simulation and artificial intelligence." It's a lot safer, and within the bounds of treaties, to run simulations of nukes, nuclear material, and reactors than deal with the real thing: just ask the Russians.

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Mayday, mayday. Cray, you cray cray: Investor attempts to halt HPE's $1.3bn biz gobble

Accuses both companies of withholding essential information, claims multiple conflicts of interest

A cray cray Cray investor is attempting to scupper the supercomputer builder's pending $1.3bn acquisition by HPE, by proposing a class-action lawsuit.

Russell Davie reckons Cray broke America's finance laws in providing a “materially incomplete and misleading” preliminary proxy statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission that omitted crucial financial projections prepared by the manufacturer's management – that’s the statement that recommends Cray stockholders vote in favor of the deal.

He further alleges that the takeover is “tainted by significant conflicts of interest,” like the fact that under the terms of the deal, Cray CEO Peter Ungaro will get a job at HPE, where he could earn at least $10 million over the next three years.

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Player three has entered Cray's supercomputing game: First AMD Epyc, now Fujitsu's Arm chips

A64FX: Big in Japan, big in the US, UK at this rate

Cray has said it will build a family of supercomputers for government research labs and universities. The kicker? The exascale machines will be powered by Arm-compatible microprocessors.

The HPE-owned biz has partnered with Fujitsu to roll out the beefy big iron. Fujitsu will supply its homegrown A64FX processors – understood to be 48-core 64-bit Armv8-compatible beasts – to drive applications on the systems, while Cray will integrate the chippery into its line of CS500 supers.

It’s still early days, so the full specs aren’t out yet nor even the codenames for the exaFLOPS-grade computers. The exascale kit is expected to ship from 2020 to the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, as well as Stony Brook University in New York. Elsewhere in the world, other institutions including the RIKEN center for computational science in Japan, and the University of Bristol in the UK are eagerly awaiting the toy sets.

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Cray's found a super scooper, $1.3bn's gonna buy you. HPE's the one

Substantial losses weren't much fun, now we'll wait till deal is done

HPE is buying supercomputing veteran Cray Inc for $1.3bn after a multi-year squeeze in the supers sector that culminated in "substantial loss" for the HPC-flinger at the start of 2019.

The San Jose firm said it was looking to get in on the academia and government high performance computing markets.

In a joint statement, the pair said they looked to spin up supercomputing as a service and flog a wider high performance product set for data-intensive workloads.

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Frontiersman Cray snags $50m storage contract for 'largest single filesystem'

Shasta minute: HPE purchase to provide 1 exabyte of ClusterStor for Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Cray has won a $50m-plus contract to provide 1 exabyte of ClusterStor storage for Oak Ridge National Laboratory's (ORNL) Frontier exascale supercomputer in the United States.

Frontier is a $600m-plus Cray-AMD exascale system, rated at up to 1.5 exaFLOPS, due to be delivered in 2021 with acceptance in 2022. It will be a follow-on to ORNL's 200 petaFLOPS Summit supercomputer.

Cray won the Frontier bid with its Shasta supercomputer, powered by AMD EPYC processors and Radeon Instinct GPUs in May, so the associated storage contract is not unexpected.

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Cray will realise 'substantial' loss. But Shasta minute, folks, big iron market will pick up

And... stock-botherers seem happy with that

Supercomputing remains a tough place to do business, with Cray warning investors that it expects to report a significant net loss for both 2018 and this financial year.

Today's announcement included the prediction that revenue in 2019 will grow “modestly” over a preliminary result of around $450m in 2018 (compared to a full-year 2017 revenue of $392.5m and loss of $133.8m).

Telling the world it would bag predicted revenue of just $70m in the coming quarter (Q1 2019) also didn't send the HPC specialist's stock price tumbling: at the time of writing the company's shares were trading up slightly to $22.31, compared to $21.93 at opening.

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Cray snuggles up with AMD: Clustered super CS500 lets in Epyc chip

Oh dear, Intel... look who's getting cosy with Cray

Cray is adding an AMD processor option to its CS500 line of clustered supercomputers.

The CS500 supports more than 11,000 nodes which can use Intel Xeon SP CPUs, optionally accelerated by Nvidia Tesla GPUs or Intel Phi co-processors. Intel Stratix FPGA acceleration is also supported.

There can be up to 72 nodes in a rack, interconnected by EDR/FDR InfiniBand or Intel's OmniPath fabric.

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Hey, US taxpayers. Filed your taxes? Good, good. $500m of it is going on an Intel-Cray exascale boffinry supercomputer

Well, that Knights Hill 2018 dream didn't work out, so let's shoot for 2021 instead

Intel will, as expected, provide the processors for the US government's exascale-grade Aurora supercomputer, due to be deployed in 2021.

The contract to build the 1,000 peta-FLOPS beast – that's a machine capable of crunching a quintillion floating-point math calculations per second – will run to $500m, with Chipzilla providing the Xeon x86 CPUs and Cray the surrounding Shasta system architecture.

The super will be Uncle Sam's first publicly known exascale computer, and will be operated by the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, based just outside Chicago. While Argonne is known for its work on non-weaponized nuclear physics, it also performs studies in a bunch of other areas. As such, we're told, Aurora will be put to use running a range of simulations, from predicting how patients will respond to experimental drugs to the performance of organic solar cell materials.

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Cray's pre-exascale Shasta supercomputer gets energy research boffins hot under collar

US DoE sees multiple CPU, GPU, interconnect support and snaps one up for $146m

Cray has announced Shasta – a near-composable planned supercomputer supporting multiple CPUs, GPUs and interconnects, including its new high-speed Slingshot Ethernet-compatible fabric that fixes the noisy neighbour network congestion problem.

Shasta is designed to run multiple workload types: traditional HPC-like modelling and simulation, AI and analytics. It can be built using standard 19-inch or water-cooled racks, including warm-water cooling.

These liquid-cooled racks are designed to hold 64 compute blades with multiple processors per blade. The system is capable of supporting processors exceeding 500W.

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