241. Introduction

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POSIX provides a model of a widely portable file system, but the portability and optimization needed for parallel I/O cannot be achieved with the POSIX interface.

The significant optimizations required for efficiency (e.g., grouping [35], collective buffering [6,13,36,39,46], and disk-directed I/O [31]) can only be implemented if the parallel I/O system provides a high-level interface supporting partitioning of file data among processes and a collective interface supporting complete transfers of global data structures between process memories and files. In addition, further efficiencies can be gained via support for asynchronous I/O, strided accesses, and control over physical file layout on storage devices (disks). The I/O environment described in this chapter provides these facilities.

Instead of defining I/O access modes to express the common patterns for accessing a shared file (broadcast, reduction, scatter, gather), we chose another approach in which data partitioning is expressed using derived datatypes. Compared to a limited set of predefined access patterns, this approach has the advantage of added flexibility and expressiveness.

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