IBM opens high-performance file system

IBM on Tuesday announced that it was loosening its grip on its high performance General Parallel File System, opening the source code to third-party vendors so that the software could run on hardware other than its own.

In the past, the file system, designed to provide high-speed file access to distributed supercomputing applications, ran only on IBM hardware. But IBM decided to broaden platform support in the name of openness and flexibility.

"As the popularity of Linux-based computing clustering grows, so does the need for simplified and highly performing file management software that is able to function across many hardware platforms," David Turek, vice president of Deep Computing at IBM, said in a statement.

Linux Networx, which builds Linux supercomputers, is the first hardware vendor to license IBM's GPFS. Linux Networks will integrate GPFS into its LS Series of Linux Supersystems.

GPFS can support hundreds of terabytes of storage within a single file system, creating a virtual pool of data out of multiple physical servers and storage nodes. It is extremely scalable and can support huge files associated with applications such as computational fluid dynamics, crash analysis and structural engineering.

GPFS runs on AIX and Linux clusters, but only now can support mixed hardware environments.

"Now that GPFS is available on multiple vendors' systems, NERSC [National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center] was able to implement a global file system across mixed architectures, enabling our users to be much more productive," Bill Kramer, NERSC general manager and head of High Performance Computing at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, said in a statement.

IBM is licensing GPFS source code to third-party vendors, which can then adapt GPFS to other platforms and share their work with other licensees. IBM is creating a community-developed environment for GPFS in the hopes of promoting innovation.

It's a tack systems vendors are taking more often as they look to the open-source model of development to help improve technology and drive business.

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