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Robo-line Storage: Low Latency, High Capacity Storage Systems over Geographically Distributed Networks

Katz, Randy H.
Anderson, Thomas E.
Ousterhout, John K.
Patterson, David A.
Technical Report Identifier: CSD-91-651
September 1991

Abstract: Rapid advances in high performance computing are making possible more complete and accurate computer-based modeling of complex physical phenomena, such as weather front interactions, dynamics of chemical reactions, numerical aerodynamic analysis of airframes, and ocean-land-atmosphere interactions. Many of these "grand challenge" applications are as demanding of the underlying storage system, in terms of their capacity and bandwidth requirements, as they are on the computational power of the processor. A global view of the Earth's ocean chlorophyll and land vegetation requires over 2 terabytes of raw satellite image data!

In this paper, we describe our planned research program in high capacity, high bandwidth storage systems. The project has four overall goals. First, we will examine new methods for high capacity storage systems, made possible by low cost, small formfactor magnetic and optical tape systems. Second, access to the storage system will be low latency and high bandwidth. To achieve this, we must interleave data transfer at all levels of the storage system, including devices, controllers, servers, and communications links. Latency will be reduced by extensive caching throughout the storage hierarchy. Third, we will provide effective management of a storage hierarchy, extending the techniques already developed by Ousterhout for his Log Structured File System. Finally, we will construct a prototype high capacity file server, suitable for use on the National Research and Education Network (NREN). Such research must be a cornerstone of any coherent program in high performance computing and communications.