The HPSS Collaboration between IBM and what are now five DOE National Laboratories (Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Sandia) began in the fall of 1992. The goal was to produce a highly scalable high performance storage system.

The High Performance Storage System (HPSS) needed to provide scalable hierarchical storage management (HSM), archive, and file system services. No product meeting the requirements existed. When HPSS design and implementation began scientific computing power and storage capabilities at a site, such as a DOE national laboratory, was measured in a few tens of gigaflops, data archived in HSMs in a few tens of terabytes at most, data throughput rates to an HSM in a few megabytes/sec, and daily throughput with the HSM in a few gigabytes/day. At that time, the DOE national laboratory and IBM HPSS design team recognized that we were headed for a data storage explosion driven by computing power rising to teraflops/petaflops requiring data stored in HSMs to rise to petabytes and beyond, data transfer rates with the HSM to rise to gigabytes/sec and higher, and daily throughput with an HSM in tens of terabytes/day. Therefore, we set out to design and deploy a system that would scale by a factor of 1,000 or more and evolve from the base above toward these expected targets and beyond.

Anticipating Future Storage Demands

Because of the highly scalable HPSS architecture, these targets have been successfully met. We now recognize that computing power will rise to exaflops with a corresponding rise in the need to scale storage in its various dimensions by another factor of 1,000. Further, other major application domains, such as real-time data collection, also require such extreme-scale storage. We believe the HPSS architecture and basic implementation, built around a scalable relational database management system (IBM’s Db2) make it well suited to this challenge.

For a distributed collaboration such as the HPSS Collaboration that is producing a major software system to be successful, careful thought went into its basic organization. Its basic governing document is a Collaboration Agreement spelling out intellectual property rights of the development partners and their management and organization. IBM has the responsibilities for commercialization and deployment, outside the development partners. There is an Executive Committee co-chaired by IBM and DOE lab representatives that sets major development and other policies. This group meets several times a year, primarily by teleconference. HPSS development is overseen by a Technical Committee coordinated by an IBM project manager. This group is generally organized around the major architectural modules of the system. It meets weekly, and more often as needed, by teleconference and once or twice a year in person. Development of the system follows industry standard software engineering practices. Following these software engineering practices has been a major factor in its success in producing a stable maintainable product.

The Collaboration Team

The HPSS collaboration is based on the premise that no single organization has the experience and resources to meet all the challenges represented by the growing imbalance between computing power and data collection capabilities, and storage system I/O, capacity, and functionality. Over 20 organizations including industry, Department of Energy (DOE), other federal laboratories, universities, National Science Foundation (NSF) supercomputer centers, French Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA) and Gleicher Enterprises have contributed to various aspects of this effort. Today, the primary HPSS development team consists of:

  • IBM Consulting (Houston, TX)
  • Lawrence Berkeley National Energy Research Supercomputer Center (Berkeley, CA)
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA)
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos, NM)
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Oak Ridge, TN)
  • Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM)