The Case for Modular Redundancy in Large-Scale High Performance Computing Systems

C. Engelmann, H. Ong, and S.L. Scott (USA)


high-performance computing, modular redundancy, faulttolerance, high availability, reliability


Recent investigations into resilience of large-scale high performance computing (HPC) systems showed a continuous trend of decreasing reliability and availability. Newly installed systems have a lower mean-time to failure (MTTF) and a higher mean-time to recover (MTTR) than their predecessors. Modular redundancy is being used in many mission critical systems today to provide for resilience, such as for aerospace and command & control systems. The primary argument against modular redundancy for resilience in HPC has always been that the capability of a HPC system, and respective return on investment, would be significantly reduced. We argue that modular redundancy can significantly increase compute node availability as it removes the impact of scale from single compute node MTTR. We further argue that single compute nodes can be much less reliable, and therefore less expensive, and still be highly available, if their MTTR/MTTF ratio is maintained.

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