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New Supercomputer ­ses Ssds Instead of Dram and Hard Drives

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Catalyst cluster

The Catalyst high performance computing cluster was recently installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) this month is deploying Catalyst, a new supercomputer that uses solid-state drive (SSD) storage as an alternative to dynamic random access memory and hard drives, and delivers a peak performance of 150 teraflops.

Catalyst has 281 terabytes of total SSD storage and is configured as a cluster broken into 324 computing units, each of which has two 12-core Xeon E5-2695v2 processors, totaling 7,776 central processing unit cores. Catalyst is built around the Lustre file system, which helps break bottlenecks and improves internal throughput in distributed computing systems. "As processors get faster with every generation, the bottleneck gets more acute," says Intel's Mark Seager. He notes that Catalyst offers a throughput of 512 GB per second, which is the same as LLNL's Sequoia, the world's third-fastest supercomputer.

Although Catalyst's peak performance is nowhere close to the world's fastest high-performance computers, its use of SSD technology is noteworthy. Experts say SSDs are poised for widespread enterprise adoption as they consume less energy and are becoming more reliable. For example, faster SSDs increasingly are replacing hard drives in servers to improve data access rates, and they also are being used in some servers as cache, where data is temporarily stored for quicker processing.

From IDG News Service
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