DDN Revs Up Storage Fusion Offering, Fills Out Exec Team

By Michael Feldman

September 21, 2011

DataDirect Networks (DDN) has announced the sequel to its original SFA10000 product. The SFA10K-X unveiled on Tuesday is the company’s first major upgrade to its Storage Fusion Architecture product line originally launched in June 2009.

The new SFA10K-X (the X stands for extreme) is basically the same appliance as the SFA10000, providing lots of IOPS, capacity and bandwidth for petascale storage. But the 10K-X delivers about 25 percent more performance than its predecessor — up to 15GB/sec of read-write bandwidth and 840,000 IOPS.

That was accomplished mainly with better software that is able to use the drives more efficiently. The company also moved the backend infrastructure to fully 6 Gbps SAS to ensure performance is maintained for drive rebuilds, data protection, and to feed high-speed SSDs. A single storage array couplet is equipped with twenty 6 Gbps by 4 cables, delivering close to a terabit per second of aggregate bandwidth.

The new SFA10K-X also bumps up the architecture’s storage capacity. A single system can hold up to 1200 drives — a mixture of SSD, SATA and SAS — in just two racks. Fully populated with 3TB disk drives, a system can hold 3.6 PB, which increases the maximum storage capacity 50 percent over the SFA10000.

SSDs are available in 200GB and 400GB flavors, so a fully packed system could theoretically scale to 480TB of solid state memory. Given their expense though, they tend to be used at capacities that correspond to the application’s most volatile data. According to Jeff Denworth, DDN’s marketing VP, the SSDs are available for a tiered storage environment, or if the customer wants extreme IOPS for a portion of their application data, or for file system metadata.

You certainly don’t need SSDs to hit the 15 GB/sec bandwidth rates, he says. That can be delivered with a pure hard disk configuration. We’re not yet seeing a tipping point where it makes sense to use SSDs wholesale to get the best bandwidth economy from a system.” explains Denworth. “We can get full performance using ExaScaler, GridScaler, Lustre or GPFS with just plain SATA drives.”

Like the SFA10000, the SFA10K-X is aimed at the HPC market, but they’re also positioning the appliance to move into what they’re calling “adjacent markets” like big data, cloud, media streaming, and digital security — basically any area with large content workloads with a hunger for both high bandwidth and IOPS.

To that end, DDN has incorporated VMWare and VMWare ESX support into the new offering, the idea being to speed up virtual server and desktop environments. VMWare support already exists in the high throughput (and disk-only) S2A9900 product, but this is the first such support for the company’s SFA line.

Fortunately, all the software upgrades can be rolled back into the SFA10000 product, so existing customers will be able to take advantage of the non-hardware performance tweaks, plus the VMWare support. The back-fitted upgrades come free of charge. That’s good news for customers like the French Atomic Energy agency (CEA), who bought an SFA10000 last year for their Tera-100 supercomputer.  At an aggregate 300 GB/sec, it was already one of the fastest (if not the fastest) petascale storage systems on the planet.

The SFA10K-X is available immediately and has been shipping for some time, according to Denworth. Although no specific customers were mentioned in the press release, Denworth expects a large portion of SFA10K-X clients will be HPC users, as is reflective of DDN’s main market focus. In fact, the new SFA upgrade points the way toward the next HPC storage milestone. Says Denworth: “Everybody here is focused on the needs of exascale.”

But the expansion from HPC to those aforementioned adjacent markets, especially the big data space, is definitely part of DDN’s larger strategy going forward. According to Erwan Menard, the newly appointed Chief Operating Officer (COO), the HPC storage technology that has propelled the company’s success is poised to deliver its benefits where ever scalability, performance, and high capacity are required. In fact, his COO position was created largely to manage DDN’s expected growth on the operations side.

Menard came from Hewlett-Packard where he was the VP and General Manager of the HP’s Communications and Media Solutions Unit, in charge of 2,500 people. DDN only has a few hundred employees right now, but bringing Menard on-board gives some indication of the growth DDN has in mind.

In addition to Menard, who officially joined the company at the beginning of September, the company has been rather active in high-level hires over the past few months. In February, they brought in Jean-Luc Chatelain, another HP alum who is now the VP of Strategy and Technology for DDN. And just this week the company announced two other execs: Bill Cox, VP of worldwide channel sales and a new CFO, Chris O’Meara. In addition, John Dorman, who brings with him a background in financial services, was appointed to the Board of Directors.

Beyond the new blood at the top, there are also 70 job openings at the company, with positions available in the areas of product support, professional service, and R&D. In the latter area, they’re especially looking for help on the software front, which has become the main differentiator for most storage companies, HPC or otherwise.

The company appears quite healthy overall. Although prospects of an IPO, which they floated in 2008, has faded for now, DDN has weathered the recent downturn in the overall economy rather well. Over the most recent three years, 2007 through 2010, DDN recorded an 83 percent growth rate and now claims an annual revenue of about $200 million a year. That makes it several times larger than Panasas, the only other remaining pure-play HPC storage system vendor.

And despite DDN’s aspirations to tackle big data and related markets, Menard maintains the company will simultaneously remain true to its high performance computing roots — the implication being that other HPC storage vendors like BlueArc and Isilon, which were swallowed by larger storage companies, will drift away from their original focus. “We are the ones truly committed to HPC,” he says.

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!

Advancing Modular Supercomputing with DEEP and DEEP-ER Architectures

February 24, 2017

Knowing that the jump to exascale will require novel architectural approaches capable of delivering dramatic efficiency and performance gains, researchers around the world are hard at work on next-generation HPC systems. Read more…

By Sean Thielen

Weekly Twitter Roundup (Feb. 23, 2017)

February 23, 2017

Here at HPCwire, we aim to keep the HPC community apprised of the most relevant and interesting news items that get tweeted throughout the week. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPE Server Shows Low Latency on STAC-N1 Test

February 22, 2017

The performance of trade and match servers can be a critical differentiator for financial trading houses. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Financial Update (Feb. 2017)

February 22, 2017

In this recurring feature, we’ll provide you with financial highlights from companies in the HPC industry. Check back in regularly for an updated list with the most pertinent fiscal information. Read more…

By Thomas Ayres

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

O&G Companies Create Value with High Performance Remote Visualization

Today’s oil and gas (O&G) companies are striving to process datasets that have become not only tremendously large, but extremely complex. And the larger that data becomes, the harder it is to move and analyze it – particularly with a workforce that could be distributed between drilling sites, offshore rigs, and remote offices. Read more…

Rethinking HPC Platforms for ‘Second Gen’ Applications

February 22, 2017

Just what constitutes HPC and how best to support it is a keen topic currently. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDC: Will the Real Exascale Race Please Stand Up?

February 21, 2017

So the exascale race is on. And lots of organizations are in the pack. Government announcements from the US, China, India, Japan, and the EU indicate that they are working hard to make it happen – some sooner, some later. Read more…

By Bob Sorensen, IDC

ExxonMobil, NCSA, Cray Scale Reservoir Simulation to 700,000+ Processors

February 17, 2017

In a scaling breakthrough for oil and gas discovery, ExxonMobil geoscientists report they have harnessed the power of 717,000 processors – the equivalent of 22,000 32-processor computers – to run complex oil and gas reservoir simulation models. Read more…

By Doug Black

Advancing Modular Supercomputing with DEEP and DEEP-ER Architectures

February 24, 2017

Knowing that the jump to exascale will require novel architectural approaches capable of delivering dramatic efficiency and performance gains, researchers around the world are hard at work on next-generation HPC systems. Read more…

By Sean Thielen

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDC: Will the Real Exascale Race Please Stand Up?

February 21, 2017

So the exascale race is on. And lots of organizations are in the pack. Government announcements from the US, China, India, Japan, and the EU indicate that they are working hard to make it happen – some sooner, some later. Read more…

By Bob Sorensen, IDC

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Drug Developers Use Google Cloud HPC in the Fight Against ALS

February 16, 2017

Within the haystack of a lethal disease such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis / Lou Gehrig’s Disease) there exists, somewhere, the needle that will pierce this therapy-resistant affliction. Read more…

By Doug Black

Azure Edges AWS in Linpack Benchmark Study

February 15, 2017

The “when will clouds be ready for HPC” question has ebbed and flowed for years. Read more…

By John Russell

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

US, China Vie for Supercomputing Supremacy

November 14, 2016

The 48th edition of the TOP500 list is fresh off the presses and while there is no new number one system, as previously teased by China, there are a number of notable entrants from the US and around the world and significant trends to report on. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Lighting up Aurora: Behind the Scenes at the Creation of the DOE’s Upcoming 200 Petaflops Supercomputer

December 1, 2016

In April 2015, U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary Franklin Orr announced that Intel would be the prime contractor for Aurora: Read more…

By Jan Rowell

D-Wave SC16 Update: What’s Bo Ewald Saying These Days

November 18, 2016

Tucked in a back section of the SC16 exhibit hall, quantum computing pioneer D-Wave has been talking up its new 2000-qubit processor announced in September. Forget for a moment the criticism sometimes aimed at D-Wave. This small Canadian company has sold several machines including, for example, ones to Lockheed and NASA, and has worked with Google on mapping machine learning problems to quantum computing. In July Los Alamos National Laboratory took possession of a 1000-quibit D-Wave 2X system that LANL ordered a year ago around the time of SC15. Read more…

By John Russell

Enlisting Deep Learning in the War on Cancer

December 7, 2016

Sometime in Q2 2017 the first ‘results’ of the Joint Design of Advanced Computing Solutions for Cancer (JDACS4C) will become publicly available according to Rick Stevens. He leads one of three JDACS4C pilot projects pressing deep learning (DL) into service in the War on Cancer. Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

CPU Benchmarking: Haswell Versus POWER8

June 2, 2015

With OpenPOWER activity ramping up and IBM’s prominent role in the upcoming DOE machines Summit and Sierra, it’s a good time to look at how the IBM POWER CPU stacks up against the x86 Xeon Haswell CPU from Intel. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Sees Bright Future for AI Supercomputing

November 23, 2016

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia made a strong showing at SC16 in Salt Lake City last week. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IDG to Be Bought by Chinese Investors; IDC to Spin Out HPC Group

January 19, 2017

US-based publishing and investment firm International Data Group, Inc. (IDG) will be acquired by a pair of Chinese investors, China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Dell Knights Landing Machine Sets New STAC Records

November 2, 2016

The Securities Technology Analysis Center, commonly known as STAC, has released a new report characterizing the performance of the Knight Landing-based Dell PowerEdge C6320p server on the STAC-A2 benchmarking suite, widely used by the financial services industry to test and evaluate computing platforms. The Dell machine has set new records for both the baseline Greeks benchmark and the large Greeks benchmark. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

What Knights Landing Is Not

June 18, 2016

As we get ready to launch the newest member of the Intel Xeon Phi family, code named Knights Landing, it is natural that there be some questions and potentially some confusion. Read more…

By James Reinders, Intel

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This