Nexsan Looks to Scare Up HPC Customers With Storage Beast

By Michael Feldman

October 2, 2008

Even though the cost of servers still dominates the datacenter budget, storage is actually on a steeper growth curve. Some analysts think HPC storage will exhibit particularly high growth over the next five years. In Tabor Research’s September 2008 report: Traditional HPC 2007 to 2012 Market Model and Forecast, the storage market is singled out:

The storage segment is expected to show the strongest growth of any segment in the traditional HPC market (9.7 percent CAGR 2008 to 2012) and to increase about $1.3 billion by the end of the forecast period. Growth here will be driven by the “data explosion” — new and intermediate data that significantly exceeds the growth in processing power and storage capacity — currently being reported by users across the market. End-user studies conducted by Tabor Research showed roughly 40 percent annual growth in both the number of files and total storage capacity.

Vendors are scrambling to keep up. Storage maker Nexsan Technologies offers a range of storage appliance from modular SAS and SATA boxes to high capacity disk-based archiving systems. The company’s latest product is DATABeast, a high capacity storage array aimed at the HPC and scaled out enterprise applications.

Founded in 1999 in Darby, England, Nexsan is now based in Thousand Oaks, Calif. It sells products across the spectrum of business, from SMEs to large global firms and governmental agencies. Not as visible as other storage vendors, Nexsan delivers its products via resellers, system integrators and OEMs. The company’s most recent hookup was with ONStor Inc., a provider of clustered storage solutions, which will incorporate Nexsan’s SATABeast and SATABoy storage systems into its Pantera line of NAS products.

The company filed for an IPO back in April, but with the investment market being what it is — or rather what it isn’t — going public right now looks like a long shot. Beyond economic uncertainties, the storage market, in general, is in a state of flux right now. The industry is moving from proprietary designs to commodity-based systems in order to place storage costs on the same trajectory with other datacenter infrastructure. But the demand for higher capacity and higher density storage is creating opportunities for storage vendors that can offer products at the right price point.

Nexsan’s overall approach was to bring the cost structure of tier 2 storage to tier 1 systems. For high capacity systems, it took a DataDirect-type of approach and built smart RAID controllers around low-cost SATA drives to deliver enterprise-level reliability. Until recently, Nexsan’s SATABeast storage appliance was the primary product being sold into the HPC space. It provided 42 SATA drives in a 4U enclosure and offered both high capacity and high density with two RAID controllers per enclosure.

The company’s new DATABeast product announced in July is a storage array that can scale into the petabytes realm with a mixture of low-cost SATA and fast-access SAS drives. System enclosures come in two sizes: 25U and 42U, with the larger unit holding up to 336 TB. A single system can be expanded by hooking up additional racks, up to at least 4 petabytes. The DATABeast supports both block access (4 Gbps Fibre Channel) and file access (CIFS, and NFS). The big selling point of the DATABeast is that it incorporates tier 1 management and reliability features — like virtualization, thin provisioning, replication (local and remote), snapshots and synchronous mirroring — at tier 2 prices.

One of Nexsan’s signature technologies available across its product line is the AutoMAID (Automatic Massive Array of Idle Disks) feature. Developed to optimize power consumption for high capacity storage, AutoMAID provides a mechanism whereby the user can configure the system to spin down the disks on idle drives. AutoMAID offers three levels of energy efficiency (with the tradeoff of raising I/O latency) and can be specified on an individual drive or RAID set.

The most conservative AutoMAID setting is level one, in which the drive heads are unloaded. This can save 15 to 20 percent on energy, but still maintain a sub-second recovery time on spin-up. Since most software already assumes a sub-second response on I/O, most application performance is unaffected at this level. Level two unloads the heads and slows the disk to 4,000 RPM. At this setting, 35 to 45 percent energy savings can be realized, but the recovery time to the first I/O is 15 seconds. At level three, the disk drives stop spinning completely (sleep mode), yielding 60 to 70 percent in energy savings and a 30 to 45 second recovery time.

The spin-down behavior can also be programmed with timers, so that levels can be switched after specified periods of disk inactivity. Even heavily-accessed storage will often benefit from the level one setting, since most applications are not constantly engaged in I/O. In HPC it is often typical for an application to load data into memory from disk, crunch the data, and then dump the results back to disk. If the data processing stage is of any length, the disks can be spun down to realize significant energy savings.

According to Bob Woolery, Nexsan’s VP of marketing, the company has made inroads into the HPC space by offering performance and capacity, along with the kind of manageability and reliability features usually reserved for mission-critical enterprise environments — and at a price-point that is “cost-correct” for HPC. MSRP for DATABeast storage starts at $1,000 to $2,700 per terabyte and gets more favorable as systems reach into the 500 terabyte to 1 petabyte realm. “It’s very much a value play,” says Woolery.

Nexsan’s main competition in the HPC market include DataDirect and OEMs like Dell, IBM and Sun Microsystem, as well as whitebox do-it-yourself systems. From an I/O throughput perspective, the DATABeast is somewhere between the highest-end storage represented by systems such as DataDirect’s S2A or LSI 7900 products and offline tape systems, with prices closer to the latter and performance much closer the former. Aggregate I/O throughput for a 42U DATABeast rack system is 3.2 GB/second versus 6.0 GB/second for a DataDirect S2A9900 appliance.

“I think of DataDirect as a Formula One race car that goes around the track doing left-hand turns very, very well. We can do that as well, but we can also do NASCAR and other types of races as well because we have a very broad performance profile and a very high capacity footprint,” explains Woolery.

Nexsan’s strategy seems to be to get its foot in the door with one or two systems, and then impress the customer with its products’ robustness and attractive TCO. Woolery says its gear will be “the most reliable systems in the facility,” claiming that it has the lowest field failure rate in disk drives and components in the industry. With the additional incentive of significant energy savings and the promise of highly dense storage, Nexsan may find a receptive audience in HPC datacenters, large and small.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, remain in first and second place. The only new entrants Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ScaleMatrix and Nvidia Launch ‘Deploy Anywhere’ DGX HPC and AI in a Controlled Enclosure

November 18, 2019

HPC and AI in a phone booth: ScaleMatrix and Nvidia announced today at the SC19 conference in Denver a joint offering that puts up to 13 petaflops of Nvidia DGX-1 compute power in an air conditioned, water-cooled ScaleMa Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE and NREL Collaborate on AI Ops to Accelerate Exascale Efficiency and Resilience

November 18, 2019

The ever-expanding complexity of high-performance computing continues to elevate the concerns posed by massive energy consumption and increasing points of failure. Now, the AI Ops collaboration between Hewlett Packard En Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale computer. Intel also provided a glimpse of Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutting for the Expo Hall opening is Monday at 6:45pm, with the Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AWS Solution Channel

Making High Performance Computing Affordable and Accessible for Small and Medium Businesses with HPC on AWS

High performance computing (HPC) brings a powerful set of tools to a broad range of industries, helping to drive innovation and boost revenue in finance, genomics, oil and gas extraction, and other fields. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Data Management – The Key to a Successful AI Project

 

Five characteristics of an awesome AI data infrastructure

[Attend the IBM LSF & HPC User Group Meeting at SC19 in Denver on November 19!]

AI is powered by data

While neural networks seem to get all the glory, data is the unsung hero of AI projects – data lies at the heart of everything from model training to tuning to selection to validation. Read more…

SC19’s HPC Impact Showcase Chair: AI + HPC a ‘Speed Train’

November 16, 2019

This year’s chair of the HPC Impact Showcase at the SC19 conference in Denver is Lori Diachin, who has spent her career at the spearhead of HPC. Currently deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Computing Project (ECP), Diachin is also... Read more…

By Doug Black

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respective Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ScaleMatrix and Nvidia Launch ‘Deploy Anywhere’ DGX HPC and AI in a Controlled Enclosure

November 18, 2019

HPC and AI in a phone booth: ScaleMatrix and Nvidia announced today at the SC19 conference in Denver a joint offering that puts up to 13 petaflops of Nvidia DGX Read more…

By Doug Black

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19’s HPC Impact Showcase Chair: AI + HPC a ‘Speed Train’

November 16, 2019

This year’s chair of the HPC Impact Showcase at the SC19 conference in Denver is Lori Diachin, who has spent her career at the spearhead of HPC. Currently deputy director for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Exascale Computing Project (ECP), Diachin is also... Read more…

By Doug Black

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel AI Summit: New ‘Keem Bay’ Edge VPU, AI Product Roadmap

November 12, 2019

At its AI Summit today in San Francisco, Intel touted a raft of AI training and inference hardware for deployments ranging from cloud to edge and designed to support organizations at various points of their AI journeys. The company revealed its Movidius Myriad Vision Processing Unit (VPU)... Read more…

By Doug Black

IBM Adds Support for Ion Trap Quantum Technology to Qiskit

November 11, 2019

After years of percolating in the shadow of quantum computing research based on superconducting semiconductors – think IBM, Rigetti, Google, and D-Wave (quant Read more…

By John Russell

Supercomputer-Powered AI Tackles a Key Fusion Energy Challenge

August 7, 2019

Fusion energy is the Holy Grail of the energy world: low-radioactivity, low-waste, zero-carbon, high-output nuclear power that can run on hydrogen or lithium. T Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Using AI to Solve One of the Most Prevailing Problems in CFD

October 17, 2019

How can artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) solve mesh generation, one of the most commonly referenced problems in computational engineering? A new study has set out to answer this question and create an industry-first AI-mesh application... Read more…

By James Sharpe

Cray Wins NNSA-Livermore ‘El Capitan’ Exascale Contract

August 13, 2019

Cray has won the bid to build the first exascale supercomputer for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Lawrence Livermore National Laborator Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

DARPA Looks to Propel Parallelism

September 4, 2019

As Moore’s law runs out of steam, new programming approaches are being pursued with the goal of greater hardware performance with less coding. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency is launching a new programming effort aimed at leveraging the benefits of massive distributed parallelism with less sweat. Read more…

By George Leopold

AMD Launches Epyc Rome, First 7nm CPU

August 8, 2019

From a gala event at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco yesterday (Aug. 7), AMD launched its second-generation Epyc Rome x86 chips, based on its 7nm proce Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

Ayar Labs to Demo Photonics Chiplet in FPGA Package at Hot Chips

August 19, 2019

Silicon startup Ayar Labs continues to gain momentum with its DARPA-backed optical chiplet technology that puts advanced electronics and optics on the same chip Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Crystal Ball Gazing: IBM’s Vision for the Future of Computing

October 14, 2019

Dario Gil, IBM’s relatively new director of research, painted a intriguing portrait of the future of computing along with a rough idea of how IBM thinks we’ Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Confirms Retreat on Omni-Path

August 1, 2019

Intel Corp.’s plans to make a big splash in the network fabric market for linking HPC and other workloads has apparently belly-flopped. The chipmaker confirmed to us the outlines of an earlier report by the website CRN that it has jettisoned plans for a second-generation version of its Omni-Path interconnect... Read more…

By Staff report

Kubernetes, Containers and HPC

September 19, 2019

Software containers and Kubernetes are important tools for building, deploying, running and managing modern enterprise applications at scale and delivering enterprise software faster and more reliably to the end user — while using resources more efficiently and reducing costs. Read more…

By Daniel Gruber, Burak Yenier and Wolfgang Gentzsch, UberCloud

Dell Ramps Up HPC Testing of AMD Rome Processors

October 21, 2019

Dell Technologies is wading deeper into the AMD-based systems market with a growing evaluation program for the latest Epyc (Rome) microprocessors from AMD. In a Read more…

By John Russell

Rise of NIH’s Biowulf Mirrors the Rise of Computational Biology

July 29, 2019

The story of NIH’s supercomputer Biowulf is fascinating, important, and in many ways representative of the transformation of life sciences and biomedical res Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Xilinx vs. Intel: FPGA Market Leaders Launch Server Accelerator Cards

August 6, 2019

The two FPGA market leaders, Intel and Xilinx, both announced new accelerator cards this week designed to handle specialized, compute-intensive workloads and un Read more…

By Doug Black

When Dense Matrix Representations Beat Sparse

September 9, 2019

In our world filled with unintended consequences, it turns out that saving memory space to help deal with GPU limitations, knowing it introduces performance pen Read more…

By James Reinders

With the Help of HPC, Astronomers Prepare to Deflect a Real Asteroid

September 26, 2019

For years, NASA has been running simulations of asteroid impacts to understand the risks (and likelihoods) of asteroids colliding with Earth. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing for the next, crucial step in planetary defense against asteroid impacts: physically deflecting a real asteroid. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This