Update on Fraunhofer Parallel File System

Published on Friday, 02 May 2014 14:45
Written by Tobias Goetz
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An update to our previous story on FhGFS

Released on March 10th 2014, the new major release of Fraunhofer’s parallel file system (FhGFS) is now available and comes with two significant new features. While last year's major release was primarily focused on metadata server improvements, the focus for the new release was on performance optimizations on the storage server side. Under the hood, the storage servers now create an innovative new data layout that uses user- and time-based grouping of chunk files. This approach reduces disk seeks significantly by improving the cache efficiency of the underlying server file system and helps to avoid aging-related performance reductions. More visible to the user is a new option for connection-based authentication between clients and servers using a pre-shared secret.

Beyond the new features, several internal enhancements have been made that improve the overall user experience substantially. Some of them help admins and users directly by giving more feedback, like the Admon GUI displaying detailed client operation statistics now, which can be used to improve application file system workloads. Some of them increase the user's flexibility regarding potential hardware platforms for FhGFS, as the client is now supporting system architectures with strong memory alignment requirements. Others help by improving the overall performance. In this last category falls that clients can now buffer files that have been opened in “append” mode and also implicitly take global locks to avoid conflicts with concurrent append writers on other hosts. This reduces the amount of network messages considerably and thus increases the throughput for such files. The new release can be downloaded for free from the project website at www.fhgfs.com. Technical documentation, an installation guide as well as a changelog from previous versions is available from the same source, too.

On the business side, Fraunhofer started spinning-off FhGFS into a new company: ThinkParQ. ThinkparQ will gradually take over sales, customer service and support for FhGFS which is also given a new name in this process. FhGFS will become BeeGFS®. Change in name does not mean change in quality, however. Fraunhofer will continue to drive further development and optimization of BeeGFS® for today's and tomorrow's performance-critical systems.

About Fraunhofer

Fraunhofer (FhG) is one of Europe's largest research companies. Its mission is to undertake applied research of direct utility to private and public enterprise and of wide benefit to society. Fraunhofer maintains more than 80 research institutions worldwide – among them 60 institutes in Germany – and employs over 20,000 people, the majority with masters and doctorate degrees in natural sciences. More than 80 percent of the annual research budget of 2 billion Euro (~$2.6 billion, 2012) stem from contract research, the rest from public funding.

The ITWM is one of Fraunhofer's institutes and the first to focus research on industrial mathematics, working on fields such as optimization, fluid dynamics and simulations as well as HPC. The CC-HPC at the ITWM is active in several fields, developing HPC tools such as FhGFS or GPI but also proprietary HPC applications for customers. The department also has a strong focus on CPU based visualization techniques and Green-by-IT technologies.

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