Jagged Thoughts | Dr. John Linwood Griffin

August 26, 2008

High end computing workshop

Filed under: Reviews — JLG @ 3:44 PM

In August 2008 I attended the HEC FSIO workshop on file system and I/O (FSIO) research in support of high-end computing (HEC).

This HEC focus was interesting for a systems guy like me — think “systems that run detailed atmospheric simulations for weather prediction” and like environments where such words as “parallel”, “(peta)scale”, and “throughput” are bandied about. (Sample presentation title: Improving scalability in parallel file systems for high end computing.)

The primary attendees and presenters were academic PIs funded under a joint NSF/DOE program called HECURA. This program chooses a new theme each year for its solicitations: last year’s was compilers; this fall’s will be FSIO (as it was three years ago). All presentations from this workshop are available here:

The work was all interesting but old; most of the work had been presented and discussed at the great conferences of yore. What I ended up enjoying the most from this workshop was an “Industry Storage Device Research Panel” with two fabulous presentations:

The above two talks are a great introduction to, respectively, the future of magnetic storage & the future of alternatives to magnetic storage.

The most interesting thing I learned is DOE’s archival storage model. If you want to archive something, you FTP PUT it onto an enormous server containing everything else that’s been archived in the last 60 years. If you want to retrieve it, you FTP GET it. (I didn’t learn how you locate the item you want, but there must be a standard naming scheme or an index — if you know please send me a note.) I chatted briefly with Mark Gary, data storage group leader at LLNL, about the differences between that model and all the digital preservation issues we touched upon in the class I co-taught this Spring (metadata generation, textual normalization, ontology standardization, language translation, QoS, security, access methods, historical ingest, etc.) Mark made the point that their KISS approach, while limited in functionality at first glance, both works well and continues to do exactly what their users need.