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System Issues in Implementing High Speed Distributed Parallel Storage Systems

Brian Tierney (
Bill Johnston (
Hanan Herzog, Gary Hoo, Guojun Jin, Jason Lee

Imaging Technologies Group
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
Berkeley, CA 94720


In this paper we describe several aspects of implementing a high speed network-based distributed application. We describe the design and implementation of a distributed parallel storage system that uses high speed ATM networks as a key element of the architecture. The architecture provides what amounts to a collection of network-based disk block servers, and an associated name server that provides some file system functionality. The implementation approach is that of user level software that runs on UNIX workstations. Both the architecture and the implementation are intended to provide for easy and economical scalability in both performance and capacity. We describe the software architecture, the implementation and operating system overhead issues, and our experiences with this approach in an IP-over-ATM WAN. Although most of the paper is specific to a distributed parallel data server, we believe many of the issues we encountered are generally applicable to any high speed network-based application.

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