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Seagate Launches Three-Pronged HPC Attack With A200, L300 And G200 Systems

By - Source: Seagate

Seagate's recent moves on the storage chessboard reveal its concerted strategy to establish a beachhead in the full systems market, which will provide it with a higher profit margin as the HDD market continues to experience an extended downturn (much to the chagrin of the established OEMs).

The company purchased Dot Hill in August to bolster the systems foundation it set with its Xyratex acquisition, and quickly amalgamated the company under its Cloud Systems and Electronic Solutions division. This division provides a spate of full-system products, and the HPC segment is a key component of the relatively new business unit.

Seagate bolstered its HPC attack earlier this month and formed a separate business entity specifically to cater to the U.S. government. Seagate Government Solutions proffers HPC solutions to help the government tackle its big data and security needs. Seagate maneuvered its pieces on the board, and now it is bringing in reinforcements in the form of three new HPC systems that address varying workload requirements. 

ClusterStor L300 for Lustre

The ClusterStor L300, which leverages the Luster storage architecture, utilizes a new line of 3.5" HDDs specifically tailored for HPC applications. The ClusterStor HPC Drive offers up to 300 MBps of sequential performance and also produces 35 percent faster random performance than competing solutions.

Seagate recently announced its new 8 TB series of HDDs, which employ a non-volatile cache to increase random performance. It would not be surprising to find the HPC drive as either the successor to its new line of 8 TB HDDs or as a variation of those products. The drive also offers an MTBF of 2 million hours to provide extended reliability in demanding HPC environments.

The ClusterStor HPC HDDs serve as the cornerstone of the architecture, which delivers up to 112 GBps throughput per rack -- a solid 77 percent improvement over the previous ClusterStor systems. Seagate also offers an "Extreme Mode" that boosts performance up to 448 GBps with the addition of its flash products. The company includes a tiering mechanism in the form of its Object Storage Target disk pool management system, which allows creation of discrete pools of data on each medium -- HPC HDDs, SSDs, SSHDs and capacity-centric HDDs.

Throughput that tops out at 448 GBps requires a fast outlet, and either Mellanox EDR 100 Gb/s Infiniband or the cutting-edge Intel Omni-Path step in to fulfill that role. Seagate already has several initiatives underway with customers, including the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, which will employ the storage system in its next supercomputer, and Cray. The L300 will be available in Q1 2016.

ClusterStor G200 Spectrum Scale

The ClusterStor G200 also features Seagate's new purpose-built HPC HDD at its core, but brings the IBM Spectrum Scale file system (GPFS) to bear. The G200 features 84 3.5" drive slots per 5U enclosure and features embedded controllers and all of the requisite HPC-tuned software.

Seagate intends to aim the ClusterStor G200 at the enterprise space as well, as opposed to just the normal HPC stomping grounds (supercomputing, academia). To that end, Seagate delivers the G200 pre-configured, tested and ready to deploy. The ClusterStor G200 also sidesteps the traditional burden of long-term RAID rebuilds by employing Seagate's Grid RAID, a declustered RAID feature that boosts RAID rebuilds up to 400 percent in comparison with standard rebuild approaches. This technique likely employs Seagate's RAID Rebuild functionality, as well.

The ClusterStor G200 will be available in Q1 2016.

ClusterStor A200 Tiered Archive System

HPC applications are not typically viewed through the low-cost prism; most customers are willing to invest the extra dollars for the absolute best performance. However, HPC applications tend to generate an incredible amount of data in a very short time, which necessitates a vast and economical data repository for archival purposes. Unfortunately, HPC operators are left in the unenviable position of experiencing excessive data retrieval times when the data requires migration back from the archival tier to the compute tier.  

Seagate contends that its ClusterStor A200 Tiered Archive System can reduce storage and operational costs up to 50 percent through its use of a multi-tier storage architecture. The scale-out storage system employs a policy-based Hierarchical Storage Management system and offers nearly unlimited scalability. The system allows administrators to intelligently place frequently accessed data into faster storage tiers, and shuffle less-desirable data to slower data tiers.

Data protection and resiliency comes courtesy of Seagate's third-generation network-based ClusterStor erasure coding, which allows the system to rebuild failed storage components quickly by leveraging all of the clustered nodes. The erasure coding algorithms also prioritize the most critical data during rebuild operations.

ClusterStor A200 will be available globally in Q1 2016.

Paul Alcorn is a Contributing Editor for Tom's IT Pro, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.