DataWarp I/O Accelerator Speeds Scientific Discovery at NERSC

Scientists and researchers worldwide rely upon the scalability of Cray® XC™ supercomputing systems to solve their problems faster than our competition can. So when the productivity of the highly capable Cray system is throttled by the limited capabilities of the storage system, it has to be aggravating for them to have so much valuable compute power at their fingertips and then have to … wait … for … the …. data …. to … arrive.

In a recent podcast led by Addison Snell, CEO of Intersect360 Research, Debbie Bard, a big data analyst at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), talks about the fifth-fastest computing system in the world*, the Cray® XC40™-based “Cori” system at NERSC. Six thousand scientists and researchers worldwide use Cori, and the system supports 700 different research projects. In straight talk, Debbie relates the performance challenges of the everyday researcher in a way that all of us can easily understand. Slow I/O causes scientists to modify their application codes to mitigate the impact on application performance. When they do this, they knowingly compromise the fidelity of their scientific research by creating lower-resolution simulations and models. And because of this common problem, Debbie shares that faster I/O becomes the second-most common request from their scientists and researchers, once the request for more compute power is satisfied.

Debbie also describes how Cray’s DataWarp applications I/O accelerator instead allows scientists and researchers on Cori to scale up their science and their I/O without altering their code. Many scientists are not savvy compute engineers, and the DataWarp platform’s integration with SLURM makes it easy for them to use. The result: higher-resolution data, improved time-to-discovery and a speed up of four to five times in most user loads.

Tune in to this 15-minute discussion on burst buffers to hear more about industry trends, the three customer needs, application acceleration, emerging use cases and ease of use.

*According to the Nov. 2016 TOP500 list. The next list will be published in June 2017.


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