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Storage Throughput with Parallel NFS

At our October 2007 meeting, Sam Falkner from Sun Microsystems reported on their work implementing Parallel NFS (pNFS).

Parallel NFS is targeted at High-Performance Computing (HPC) applications where extremely I/O rates need to be supported. It uses a single metadata server to maintain file and state information, with multiple storage servers to hold the actual file data. On a per-file basis, pNFS can be configured to stripe files across multiple storage servers, or to store a file's data on just one. Coordination of this activity is conducted through communication with the metadata server, a link whose protocols are not defined by the standard and will likely make each vendor's pNFS implementation work only with a homogeneous set of that vendor's OS. The metadata server can move files around, communicating with the NFS client so that the application is actually unaware of the move. This can be used to support file migration and failover. Another interesting feature of pNFS is that to be NFSv4.1 compatible, it must implement Kerberos which, of course, is an option.

The ability to stripe across multiple storage servers allows file I/O to across over parallel sessions. Sam did some rough benchmarking using a fake filesystem and observed 235 MB/sec. to a single server over 10 Gbps Ethernet, and 980 MB/sec. over InfiniBand, which is the likely interconnect for HPC applications.

Sam expects Sun's implementation to be available in the first half of 2008, and the other implementation in progress is on Linux.

Sam's presentation slides (PDF) are available here, and thanks to Lynda McGinley, whose notes contributed to this writeup.

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February 15, 2009

February 2008: FRUUG Enters Quiescent Phase
After 27 years running, we're suspending operations.

Future Meetings:
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