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Blue Gene Active Storage Boosts I/O performance at JSC

The ever growing complexity of various simulation tasks not only requires a continuous increase in computing power but also the capability of managing large amounts of data. An active storage architecture and integration of non-volatile memory into Blue Gene/Q enables data-intensive applications to exploit the performance of this highly scalable high-performance computing system. The Blue Gene Active Storage system (BGAS) is the result of a close collaboration between Forschungszentrum Jülich and IBM in the framework of the Exascale Innovation Centre (EIC). It is attached to the Blue Gene/Q system JUQUEEN at JSC.

Active storage is an architectural concept that addresses the increasing costs of data transport between compute and storage systems. Therefore, computing power and storage are much more tightly integrated. In BGAS this is combined with the power of non-volatile memory technologies, which feature not only high bandwidth but in particular very high access rates. The BGAS system at JSC consists of 32 processors each connected to a newly designed PCIe card comprising 2 terabytes of SLC NAND flash memory. The nodes are integrated in a high-performance network and connected to both the Blue Gene/Q compute system and an external storage system.

BGAS opens up new opportunities, e.g. for neuroscience simulations. During extensive simulations of neuronal networks, large amounts of data must be stored externally in order to be analysed later. However, no typical HPC system can provide sufficient I/O capabilities to cope with the volume of generated data that researchers would like to analyse. BGAS sustains the required data rates, provides the compute power to analyse the data, and also facilitates interactive access to the data.
(Contact: Prof. Dr. Dirk Pleiter,