Argonne sets new marks for high-speed data transfer

Argonne sets new marks for high-speed data transfer

Researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory, working with DataDirect Networks (DDN), transferred 65 terabytes of data in under 100 minutes between storage systems, a digital accomplishment that would have taken two days with a 10 gigabit/sec connection.

The demonstration took place over a 100 Gbps wide-area network connection between storage centers in Ottawa Canada and New Orleans, La., last month at SC14, a conference for high-performance computing.

The team, with support from networking firms Ciena and Brocade and Internet research group ICAIR, reached data transfer rates above 85 Gbps—with peaks at over 90 Gbps, according to a report from the Argonne lab.

Achieving the record speeds involved combining file and virtual machine features of the DDN storage controller, the wide-area data transfer capabilities of the Globus GridFTP server and an advanced 100 G wide-area network.

DDN offers massively scalable storage systems for big data and data intensive applications, such as supercomputing, seismic processing and genomics. The open source Globus GridFTP server uses an extension of the standard File Transfer Protocol for high-speed, secure data transfers.

"Embedding the GridFTP servers in virtual machines on DDN's storage controller eliminates the need for external data transfer nodes and network adapters," said Raj Kettimuthu, principal software development specialist at Argonne.

Kettimuthu pointed out that networking experts often  say storage is the bottleneck in end-to-end transfers on high-speed networks, while storage experts claim that the network is the stumbling block.

Achieving more than 90 Gbps for memory-to-memory transfers using a tool like iperf , a benchmarking tool for network performance measurement, is straightforward and has been demonstrated several times in the past, he added.

However, achieving similar rates for disk-to-disk transfers, presents a number of challenges, according to Kettimuthu, including choosing the appropriate block size that works well for both disk I/O and network I/O and picking parallel storage I/O threads and TCP streams for end-to-end performance.

"The demonstration was aimed at bringing together experts and the latest developments in all aspects of disk-to-disk WAN data movement, including network, storage and data movement tools," said Kettimuthu.

The team expects the approach can be used to achieve 100+ Gbps wide-area transfer speeds between storage systems using multiple WAN paths and additional storage resources in the end systems, according to Argonne.

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