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SDSC Demonstrates GPFS Across the Wide Area Network

Published 11/18/2003

Research staff from the San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC) and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in partnership with IBM will demonstrate the use of IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) in a large-scale grid environment spanning several sites and long distances.

The demonstration will be presented in the SDSC booth (#2532) at SC2003, the annual high-performance computing and networking conference, to be held Nov. 15 - 21 in Phoenix. The demonstration will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, and 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20.

GPFS is IBM's parallel file system, which is being implemented for computing systems at NCSA and SDSC that are part of the TeraGrid system. The TeraGrid ( is a National Science Foundation project to build and deploy the world's largest, most comprehensive, distributed infrastructure for open scientific research.

During the SC2003 demonstration, GPFS will be extended beyond the individual machine rooms at the two centers and used with IBM Itanium 2 TeraGrid systems distributed among the SDSC and NCSA booths on the SC2003 show floor, SDSC at the University of California, San Diego, and NCSA at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The demonstration will use TeraGrid disk servers at both centers to move data across the TeraGrid network to compute nodes in the booths, where the data can then be used by scientific applications.

Using GPFS, each machine in the distributed system will have the same view of the file systems and will be able to access the same files simultaneously across the TeraGrid Wide Area Network.

"This will be the first time we have tried to use GPFS at multiple locations over the TeraGrid network," said Rob Pennington, director of NCSA's Computing and Communications division. "What we hope to show is that machines scattered across the country can be connected through a cyberinfrastructure like the TeraGrid and work as one machine. GPFS is an important component in creating this virtual machine."

Phil Andrews, Director of SDSC's High Performance Computing program, said "We see wide-area, distributed global file systems as a cornerstone of supercomputing in a Grid environment. As more high performance Grids arise, we expect to see data-intensive infrastructures that are integral parts of the original systems rather than grafted onto existing environments."


The San Diego Supercomputer Center's (SDSC) mission is to innovate, develop and deploy technology to advance science. SDSC is involved in an extensive set of collaborations and activities at the intersection of technology and science whose purpose is to enable and facilitate the next generation of scientific advances. Founded in 1985 and primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), SDSC is an organized research unit of the University of California, San Diego. With a staff of more than 400 scientists, software developers and support personnel, SDSC is an international leader in data management, biosciences, geosciences, grid computing and visualization. For more information, visit