Huawei is the big beast of 2020’s IO500

An Intel DAOS file system has leapfrogged WekaIO on the IO500 list, an annual league table of the fastest HPC file systems. This reverses Weka’s win over DAOS in 2019. However, a Huawei-based system is almost four times faster again.

This AI cluster is seriously big supercomputing iron, making Intel’s DAOS test rig of 30 servers and 52 clients look like a Raspberry PI in comparison. Having it on the same list as the DAOS and Weka systems makes the IO500 look unbalanced, like comparing a racing yacht with kayaks.

You’re playing with the big boys now

The Pengcheng Cloudbrain-II, jointly developed by Huawei Technologies and Pengcheng Laboratory in China, radically out-performs every other system, with its 255 client nodes scoring 7,043.99 on the IO500 test.

The hardware is a Huawei Atlas 900 AI cluster that uses Huawei’s Kunpeng and Ascend processors. Kunpeng 920 CPUs are 64-core, 64-bit ARM processors, designed by Huawei and built on a 7nm process. According to the partners, this is the world’s largest artificial intelligence computing platform.

Updated IO500 list.

Pencheng Lab aims to eventually reach exascale computing, with four Atlas 900 AI clusters deployed, delivering 1,000 petaflops.

This AI cluster is seriously big supercomputing iron, making Intel’s DAOS test rig of 30 servers and 52 clients look like a Raspberry PI in comparison. Having it on the same list as the DAOS and Weka systems makes the IO500 look unbalanced, like comparing a racing yacht with kayaks.

Huawei Atlas 900 AI Cluster

Intel vs WekaIO

DAOS – Distributed Application Object Storage – is Intel’s open-source and Optane-using parallel file system for high performance file system operations. All-flash servers are being used. DAOS puts metadata into Optane Persistent Memory and also stages small IO operations there, before writing full blocks to the SSDs. 

Accessing filesystem metadata in the Optane memory is faster than accessing it in NVMe SSDs.

The relevant Intel DAOS and Weka IO500 scores are:

  • Intel DAOS + Optane PMem 200 Series – 1,792.98
  • WekaIO – 938.95
  • Intel DAOS + Optane PMem 100 Series – 933.64
Intel DAOS IO500 scores.

The extra performance of the gen 2 4-deck 3D XPoint-based PMem 200 Series DIMMs over the first generation PMem 100 Series almost doubled Intel’s DAOS score. 

DAOS is obviously a fast file system, and also cheap – it’s open source. But users have to commit to using Optane PMem products to get the best use out of it. A trade-off calculation is required; is DAOS + Optane PMem as cost effective as WekaIO’s software?

Kelsey Prantis, a senior software engineer at Intel, discusses the DAOS system in a YouTube video.

The full IO500 list is here

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