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SGI Contributes World's Most Scalable File System Technology to Open Source Community

May 20, 1999, 17:48 (9 Talkback[s])

Key Infrastructure Technology Empowers Linux to Scale as Platform for Enterprise-Class Applications.

RALEIGH, N.C. (May 20, 1999) -- At the Linux Expo in Raleigh, SGI (NYSE: SGI) today announced it will contribute its journaled file system technology, XFSTM, to the open source community. XFS is a key component of the company's highly successful IRIX® operating system and is the world's most scalable and robust journaled file sharing technology. In a separate release today, SGI announced that it will investigate with Veritas the development of a unified Linux journaled file system solution.

"The XFS file system has long been one of the UNIX industry's most advanced file system implementations and one of the crown jewels of the IRIX operating systems," said Tony Iams, vice president of Midrange Systems and Software Research at D.H. Brown Associates. "SGI is demonstrating a commitment to Linux technology investment surpassing other conventional UNIX vendors who have focused primarily on sales and support."

"SGI's contribution of XFS to the open-source community has huge implications for the future of Linux as an enterprise-class application platform," said John R. "Beau" Vrolyk, senior vice president, Computer Systems Business Unit, SGI. "XFS addresses one of the key issues previously limiting Linux - the lack of a journaled file system. Journaling improves performance and speeds recovery in the event of a system failure." XFS also provides full 64-bit file capabilities that will enable LinuxTM to scale easily to handle file systems as large as 18 million terabytes (18x1018) of data and file sizes as large as 9 million terabytes.

The Need to Scale
During the late 1980s, when disk capacities started approaching the 2GB ceiling of the file systems designed to manage them, it became clear that users would soon need a file system capable of scaling to meet demand for large systems. To ensure that it had a file system capable of taking users into the next millenium, SGI designed XFS to address several underlying architecture issues that would guarantee the scalability and robustness of its new file system when dealing with large files or large numbers of files.

"XFS is unrivaled in the management of large file systems, large files, large directories, large numbers of files and overall file system performance," said Anne Vincenti, director of marketing, Storage and Networking, SGI. "XFS is able to scale where other file systems would simply fail to perform. At the same time, XFS provides enhanced reliability and rapid crash recovery without hampering performance."

"The SGI XFS file system delivers outstanding performance for large 2D and 3D data sets associated with ILM's award winning special effects," said Joe Takai, director of Production Engineering, Industrial Light & Magic. "Bringing these high-performance, file-handling capabilities to Linux will significantly increase the value of Linux as an operating system."

The XFS File System Contribution to Open Source
XFS technology will benefit Linux and the open-source community in many ways, including:

  • Scalability

XFS was designed to scale to meet the most demanding storage capacity and I/O storage needs through:

- Large File Systems and Large Files

XFS is designed to handle rapid growth far into the 21st century. It enables users to manage file systems and individual files as large as an exabyte (1018 bytes), millions of times larger than the largest file systems of today.

- Large Directories, Large Numbers of Files

SGI realized that as file systems became larger, the old way of searching files in a linear fashion would become so slow in large systems that it would render them useless. XFS incorporates large directories to address this problem. XFS has the ability to dynamically allocate index space for files, enabling systems to efficiently scale to support large numbers of files.

  • I/O Performance

Modern servers typically use large, striped disk arrays capable of providing aggregate bandwidths of tens to hundreds of megabytes per second. The key to optimizing performance from these arrays are I/O request size and I/O request parallelism.

  • Crash Recovery

XFS can recover from most unexpected interruptions in less than a second, regardless of the number of files being managed. Traditional file systems must do special file-system checks after an interruption, which can take many hours to complete. The XFS journaling features avoid the need for these lengthy file-system checks and also significantly reduce the time for reading and writing disks.

"This is terrific news and we're happy to have SGI as part of the open source family," said Ransom Love, president and CEO of Caldera Systems, Inc. "There's a great need in Linux for business to have that enterprise-class file technology and storage capability. Daily, we have enterprise customers asking for these solutions - particularly where graphics are concerned. With SGI's contribution and expertise in journaling, throughput and data integrity, we can meet the file sharing/storage needs of those customers with the best technology available. That SGI would make this contribution to the open source community says a lot about their vision and business acumen."

License and Availability
SGI will begin to offer code later this summer and meet the license guidelines set-forth by the Open Source Initiative.

About SGI

SGI is a market leader in technical computing, offering the world's most powerful servers, supercomputers and visual workstations. SGI uniquely provides a broad range of high-performance computing and advanced graphics solutions that enable customers to understand and conquer their toughest computing problems. Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices worldwide, the company is located on the Web at www.sgi.com.

IRIX is a registered trademark, and SGI, the SGI logo and XFS are trademarks, of Silicon Graphics, Inc. Linux is a trademark of Linus Torvalds. Intel is a registered trademark of Intel Corporation. UNIX is a registered trademark in the U.S. and other countries, licensed exclusively through X/Open Company, Ltd. All other trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.