Survey of Storage Systems for High-Performance Computing

Jakob Lüttgau, Michael Kuhn, Kira Duwe, Yevhen Alforov, Eugen Betke, Julian Kunkel, Thomas Ludwig


In current supercomputers, storage is typically provided by parallel distributed file systems for hot data and tape archives for cold data. These file systems are often compatible with local file systems due to their use of the POSIX interface and semantics, which eases development and debugging because applications can easily run both on workstations and supercomputers. There is a wide variety of file systems to choose from, each tuned for different use cases and implementing different optimizations. However, the overall application performance is often held back by I/O bottlenecks due to insufficient performance of file systems or I/O libraries for highly parallel workloads. Performance problems are dealt with using novel storage hardware technologies as well as alternative I/O semantics and interfaces. These approaches have to be integrated into the storage stack seamlessly to make them convenient to use. Upcoming storage systems abandon the traditional POSIX interface and semantics in favor of alternative concepts such as object and key-value storage; moreover, they heavily rely on technologies such as NVM and burst buffers to improve performance. Additional tiers of storage hardware will increase the importance of hierarchical storage management. Many of these changes will be disruptive and require application developers to rethink their approaches to data management and I/O. A thorough understanding of today's storage infrastructures, including their strengths and weaknesses, is crucially important for designing and implementing scalable storage systems suitable for demands of exascale computing.

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