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Virginia Tech Researchers Receiving Honors
June 20, 2008

Pavan Balaji of Argonne National Laboratory and Wu Feng of the Department of Computer Science in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering led an international team of researchers that received the International Supercomputing Conference 2008 Distinguished Paper Award.

The paper, “Distributed I/O with ParaMEDIC: Experiences with a Worldwide Supercomputer,” takes a new and non-traditional approach to what has been considered an elusive holy grail in high performance computing. I/O stands for “Input/Output” in a computing system.

Despite enhancements by the information technology field in network hardware as well as network and input/output software stacks, achieving scalable high performance remains a challenge. In Mr. Balaji and Mr. Feng’s paper, a worldwide team took a completely new and non-traditional approach to distributed I/O that the pair dubbed “ParaMEDIC” or Parallel Metadata Environment for Distributed Input/Output and Computing.” ParaMEDIC leverages application-specific transformation of data to create orders-of-magnitude smaller meta-data for significantly more efficient input/output processing.

The project involved nine different computational sites spread across the United States and generated a petabyte of data that was “teleported” to a single large-scale facility in Tokyo for storage. A petabyte is equal to one quadrillion bytes of storage, which is roughly equivalent to the content of 50 Libraries of Congress or a stack of 212,766 DVDs that measures about 840 feet in height.

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