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The Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF) has announced the first details about the Orion storage subsystem of its upcoming Frontier exascale supercomputer set to go online in late 2021. Being the industry’s first 1.5 ExaFLOPS supercomputer, Frontier will need a very fast storage subsystem. It looks like it is set to get one with up to 700 Petabytes of storage, 75 TB/s of throughput, and 15 billion IOPS (yes, billion) of performance on tap.   

“To the best of our knowledge, Orion will be the largest and fastest single file POSIX namespace file system in the world,” said Sarp Oral, Input/Output Working Group lead for Frontier at OLCF. 

The Frontier supercomputer will actually have two storage sub-systems: an in-system storage layer featuring massive sequential read performance of over 75TB/s and around 15 billion read IOPS, as well as a center-wide file system called Orion that offers a whopping 700PB of capacity. 

The Orion Global File Storage System Layer: 700PB Capacity at 10TB/s

Since Frontier relies on HPE’s Cray Shasta architecture, its global file storage system will largely rely on the ClusterStor multi-tier architecture that uses both PCIe 4.0/NVMe solid-state drives as well as traditional hard disk drives. 

The Cray ClusterStor machines use AMD EPYC processors and can automatically align data flows in the file system with the workload and shift I/O operations between different tiers of storage as needed. Such shifting makes applications believe that they are accessing high-performance all-flash arrays, thus maximizing performance. 

As for the software side of matters, Orion will use an open-source Lustre parallel file system (used by loads of supercomputers worldwide, including OLCF’s Titan and Jaguar) as well as ZFS with a volume manager. 

In general, Frontier’s center-wide Orion will have three tiers:

Watch the video here:

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