Sonexion Scale-out Lustre Storage System

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Cray® Sonexion® Scale-out Lustre® Storage System

Brought to you by Cray, the world’s leading experts in parallel storage solutions for HPC and technical enterprise, the Cray® Sonexion® 2000 system provides a Lustre®-ready solution for popular x86 Linux® clusters and supercomputers through Cray Cluster Connect™. As a leader in open systems and parallel file systems, Cray builds on open source Lustre to unlock any industry-standard x86 Linux compute cluster using InfiniBand™ or 10/40 GbE utilizing proven Cray storage architectures.

The Cray Sonexion 2000 system provides 50 percent more performance and capacity than the Sonexion 1600 system in the same footprint.


  • Through its fully-integrated and pre-configured design, Cray Sonexion storage gets customers deployed faster and reduces the total number of components to manage.
  • The Sonexion system's compact design reduces the total hardware footprint of petascale systems by 50 percent over component-based solutions.


  • Performance scales from 7.5 GB/s to 1.7 TB/s in a single file system.
  • Capacity scales in modular increments; the Sonexion 2000 system stores over two usable petabytes in a single rack. Fewer drives and components reduce capital costs as capacity grows.


  • New software-based GridRAID offers higher levels of data protection and up to 3.5 times faster rebuild times than traditional RAID6 and MD-RAID storage.
  • Cray ensures quality, reliability and stability at scale through exhaustive thermal and real-world stress testing, system hardening and availability, and tight hardware and software integration.

Featured Resources

Dave McMillen, Principal Storage Engineer, Cray

Dave discusses Cray’s partnership with Seagate live from the Lustre User Group

Cray Sonexion 2000 Storage Systems

The Cray Sonexion 2000 system represents a significant advance for what was already the industry’s most powerful and scalable line of scale-out Lustre storage solutions.

See All Resources

Cray® Sonexion® Hardware

The Cray® Sonexion® storage system’s modular, compact design keeps costs low while delivering the right performance for compute clusters and applications of all types. Its compact form factor reduces the total storage hardware infrastructure (cables, servers, components and racks) required for sustaining production-grade, petascale deployments — by 50% on average over custom, component-based configurations. The Sonexion architecture system consists of preconfigured storage modules that can be easily expanded using integrated building blocks.

  • Metadata Management Unit (MMU)
  • Scalable Storage Unit (SSU)
  • InfiniBand network fabric switches for data
  • Ethernet management switch for management

The Cray Sonexion system comes preconfigured and optimized for scaling Lustre® without redesign. Cray’s Lustre design ensures optimum performance configurations across the spectrum of Lustre: from initial deployments to multi-petabyte file systems. Storage operators simply add SSUs (capacity and performance) or expansion modules to meet the performance and capacity objectives of the storage system. Each file system will vary based on number of SSUs and expansion modules to meet the individual bandwidth and usable capacity requirements for each storage system. Each 42U rack comes with two InfiniBand switches for linking the MMU, SSUs and Lustre clients. The rack also contains all power supplies, InfiniBand and Ethernet cabling, and a dual Gigabit Ethernet switch for management system connections to individual components.

A base MMU is configured in a 2U 24-bay 2.5" drive enclosure with 22 10K RPM disk drives and two solid state drives. A 5U MMU is also available with up to 80 15,000 RPM SAS drives, enabling higher metadata performance.

A base SSU is housed in a 5U 84-bay 3.5" drive enclosure with 80 drives used to provide data storage in an 8 x (8+2) RAID6 target configuration, two global hot spares and two solid state drives. An SSU expansion enclosure, which has the same drive configuration as the base SSU, can be added to double the usable capacity for a given bandwidth.

Cray® Sonexion® Software

The Cray® Sonexion® System Manager (CSSM) software application simplifies the experience of deploying and managing a Lustre® file system. Graphical and command line interfaces — integrated with third-party tools — provide system administrators and users an intuitive interface to deploy, monitor and optimize the entire system.

CSSM provides comprehensive status and control of all system components, including storage hardware, RAID, operating system and the Lustre file system in an integrated easy-to-use administrator interface. A web client hosted on one of the dual controller modules in the Metadata Management Unit (MMU) interfaces with all distributed system manager component services. CSSM also integrates a comprehensive set of community-developed tools to collect, index and analyze fast-moving data.

System-wide software and firmware upgrades are executed through a simple and single interface in the CSSM system, removing the complexity and risks of traditional large Lustre implementations.

Cray proudly supports OpenSFS, a technical organization focused on high-end open-source file system technologies.


Cray® Sonexion® Technology

Brought to you by Cray, the world’s leading experts in large-scale parallel storage solutions for HPC and technical computing, Cray® Sonexion® provides a fully integrated, scale-out Lustre® storage system for industry-standard Linux® compute clusters. The Sonexion system’s modular and compact form factor provides precision performance and capacity scalability to reduce capital costs. Performance scales in modular building blocks, reducing the number of hard drives needed to achieve sustained performance at scale. Moreover, Sonexion scales in predictable, performance-optimized configurations, ensuring precise levels of performance and stability as capacity expands.

The Sonexion system's compact form factor reduces the total storage hardware infrastructure (cables, servers, components and racks) required for sustaining production-grade, petascale deployments — in some cases up to 300 percent over onsite-designed Lustre configurations.

Precision Performance — Modular Scalability
The Cray Sonexion scale-out system maximizes the performance and capacity scaling capabilities of the Lustre file system. This integrated and modular storage solution is composed of high performance Scalable Storage Units (SSU), a Metadata Management Unit (MMU) and a network-ready rack that includes all storage and processing needs for a complete, production-grade parallel storage system.

Each SSU is physically capable of delivering 6GB/s of peak bandwidth. Using the IOR benchmark, Cray’s performance team has benchmarked real-world, sustained file system performance of each SSU to be greater than 5GB/s per SSU and up to 1TB/s sustained performance to a single file system.

Compact Design for Density at Scale
Every Cray Sonexion rack comes pre-assembled, integrated, configured and tested. More data and performance can be stored in modular building blocks. For large-scale systems, the Sonexion system’s compact design ensures greater efficiency and higher utilization within an individual rack — and across the datacenter. This power efficiency and extreme density for Lustre reduce the cost of operating petascale storage systems. In large petascale systems, the datacenter footprint — counted in number of racks for a given performance and capacity level — can be reduced up to one-third the total amount of hardware required to store multi-petabyte systems.

Easier to Deploy and Manage at Scale
Because the Sonexion storage system comes pre-integrated, pre-tested and pre-configured, deployment time is greatly reduced. All components — networking, storage, RAID, operating system and Lustre — come pre-configured and pre-cabled. There are no external servers, switches or ad hoc systems to manage. Simply add storage building blocks — SSUs, expansion modules and racks — to achieve prescribed performance and capacity objectives. Cray’s expertise integrating and configuring Lustre is embedded in the design — enabling customers to focus on research instead of Lustre.

Quality: Reliability, Availability, Serviceability and Stability
Cray’s expertise in designing, deploying, optimizing and supporting large-scale parallel storage systems has enabled us to deliver a highly reliable, available and stable clustered storage system. The modular and redundant architecture of Cray Sonexion systems provides the highest reliability and resiliency to Lustre storage solutions for HPC and technical computing. In addition, each component, module and subsystem undergoes exhaustive factory testing under the most demanding test conditions to ensure maximum system robustness. Cray’s quality assurance team simulates real-world, thermal and failure stress testing matching worst-case, production operations scenarios.

The MMU module hosts the metadata and management server operations. SSU modules operate as active/active-integrated server modules with redundant and independent system interconnections, providing maximum reliability while delivering maximum performance. The CSSM is tightly integrated into the system stack — from storage and embedded server modules to the Lustre file system and the entire storage cluster — enabling rapid, accurate monitoring and diagnosis down to the component level. System-wide software and firmware upgrades are executed through a simple and single interface in the CSSM system, removing the complexity and risks of traditional large Lustre implementations.

Lustre® Leadership

Lustre® is the file system of choice for the world’s fastest supercomputers, powering over 60 percent of the top 100 systems. That number is growing and expanding to big data and high performance computing deployments not measured on the Top500® list. Lustre provides the world’s leading storage I/O scalability, and it is chosen by most of our customers.

Cray’s Lustre model ensures stability and validation of real-world customer configurations through extreme testing, software enhancement and collaborative innovation. We aggressively test, validate and update Lustre — delivering changes back into the common Lustre source base through OpenSFS (Open Scalable File Systems), a key consortium for advancing Lustre. As an original founder and board member of OpenSFS, Cray jointly leads and funds development of key features to ensure Lustre's success.

Briefs, White Papers and Industry Perspectives

Cray's Lustre Expertise for Big Data and HPC
Making the Business Case: Lustre File Systems are Poised to Penetrate Commercial Markets
Cray Brings Leadership and Customer Focus to Lustre Scalability
insideHPC: Why Cray is Backing Lustre and OpenSFS

Product Brochures & Briefs

Cray Sonexion Brochure

Precision Performance, Modular Scalability

Cray Cluster Connect Brochure

Cray offers a complete, end-to-end Lustre storage solution for x86 Linux clusters called Cray Cluster Connect (C3).

Cray Tiered Adaptive Storage (TAS) Connector for Lustre

Through the TAS Connector for Lustre, all data stored on Lustre can be protected and transparently managed on Cray TAS, and staged for access through Lustre.

White Papers

Cray Sonexion 2000 Storage Systems

The Cray Sonexion 2000 system represents a significant advance for what was already the industry’s most powerful and scalable line of scale-out Lustre storage solutions.

Solution Brief

Cray Storage Solutions for Life Sciences

Genomics, structural biology, informatics, drug discovery, materials science and other life sciences benefit from Cray’s expert solutions. 

Case Studies

Brazil’s Petrobras Enhances Seismic Processing with Cray Technology

To help solve the challenge of managing and processing massive datasets for seismic processing, Petrobras deployed Cray Cluster Connect and two Sonexion storage systems.

Enabling Scientific Breakthroughs at the Petascale

If you think the requirements for enterprise storage systems are growing at a dizzying pace, try these numbers on for size...

Cray Customizes a Complete, Fully Integrated Compute and Storage Solution for the Korea Meteorological Administration

Cray's solution helps the KMA protect its nation with reliable meteorological observation, analysis and forecast services. 

Industry Perspectives

Cray Storage in Earth Sciences

Cray supercomputers (XE, XK, XC and CS series) are well established in the earth sciences market, especially for the larger weather and climate centers that require extreme levels of computing.

Cray Offers Scalable High Performance Storage for Energy

All of Cray’s storage systems are integrated with Lustre, and together they offer an array of storage solutions for seismic processing and modeling applications.

Datanami: Best Practices in Big Data Storage (excerpt)

Trustworthy, storage-vendor agnostic and solutions focused: Cray serves big-data and HPC clients that need more than just storage.


Preparing the Cray XC “Shaheen II” System for Shipment to KAUST

King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia selected a Cray system that includes a Cray XC40 supercomputer with DataWarp technology, a Cray Sonexion 2000 storage system, Tiered Adaptive Storage (TAS) and Cray’s Urika-GD graph analytics appliance.


Cray Blog - Storage

Commentary and insight from Cray’s top experts and customers