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!

Live and in Color, Meet the European Student Cluster Teams

November 21, 2017

The SC17 Student Cluster Competition welcomed two teams from Europe, the German team of FAU/TUC and Team Poland, the pride of Warsaw. Let's get to know them better through the miracle of video..... Team FAU/TUC is a c Read more…

By Dan Olds

SC17 Student Cluster Kick Off – Guts, Glory, Grep

November 21, 2017

The SC17 Student Cluster Competition started with a well-orchestrated kick-off emceed by Stephen Harrell, the competition chair. It began with a welcome from SC17 chair Bernd Mohr, where he lauded the competition for Read more…

By Dan Olds

Activist Investor Starboard Buys 10.7% Stake in Mellanox; Sale Possible?

November 20, 2017

Starboard Value has reportedly taken a 10.7 percent stake in interconnect specialist Mellanox Technologies, and according to the Wall Street Journal, has urged the company “to improve its margins and stock and explore Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Harness Scalable Petabyte Storage with HPE Apollo 4510 and HPE StoreEver

As a growing number of connected devices challenges IT departments to rapidly collect, manage, and store troves of data, organizations must adopt a new generation of IT to help them operate quickly and intelligently. Read more…

Installation of Sierra Supercomputer Steams Along at LLNL

November 20, 2017

Sierra, the 125 petaflops (peak) machine based on IBM’s Power9 chip being built at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, sometimes takes a back seat to Summit, the ~200 petaflops system being built at Oak Ridge Natio Read more…

By John Russell

Live and in Color, Meet the European Student Cluster Teams

November 21, 2017

The SC17 Student Cluster Competition welcomed two teams from Europe, the German team of FAU/TUC and Team Poland, the pride of Warsaw. Let's get to know them bet Read more…

By Dan Olds

SC17 Student Cluster Kick Off – Guts, Glory, Grep

November 21, 2017

The SC17 Student Cluster Competition started with a well-orchestrated kick-off emceed by Stephen Harrell, the competition chair. It began with a welcome from Read more…

By Dan Olds

SC Bids Farewell to Denver, Heads to Dallas for 30th

November 17, 2017

After a jam-packed four-day expo and intensive six-day technical program, SC17 has wrapped up another successful event that brought together nearly 13,000 visit Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC17 Keynote – HPC Powers SKA Efforts to Peer Deep into the Cosmos

November 17, 2017

This week’s SC17 keynote – Life, the Universe and Computing: The Story of the SKA Telescope – was a powerful pitch for the potential of Big Science projects that also showcased the foundational role of high performance computing in modern science. It was also visually stunning. Read more…

By John Russell

How Cities Use HPC at the Edge to Get Smarter

November 17, 2017

Cities are sensoring up, collecting vast troves of data that they’re running through predictive models and using the insights to solve problems that, in some Read more…

By Doug Black

Student Cluster LINPACK Record Shattered! More LINs Packed Than Ever before!

November 16, 2017

Nanyang Technological University, the pride of Singapore, utterly destroyed the Student Cluster Competition LINPACK record by posting a score of 51.77 TFlop/s a Read more…

By Dan Olds

Hyperion Market Update: ‘Decent’ Growth Led by HPE; AI Transparency a Risk Issue

November 15, 2017

The HPC market update from Hyperion Research (formerly IDC) at the annual SC conference is a business and social “must,” and this year’s presentation at S Read more…

By Doug Black

Nvidia Focuses Its Cloud Containers on HPC Applications

November 14, 2017

Having migrated its top-of-the-line datacenter GPU to the largest cloud vendors, Nvidia is touting its Volta architecture for a range of scientific computing ta Read more…

By George Leopold

US Coalesces Plans for First Exascale Supercomputer: Aurora in 2021

September 27, 2017

At the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) meeting, in Arlington, Va., yesterday (Sept. 26), it was revealed that the "Aurora" supercompute Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Scales Scientific Deep Learning to 15 Petaflops

August 28, 2017

A collaborative effort between Intel, NERSC and Stanford has delivered the first 15-petaflops deep learning software running on HPC platforms and is, according Read more…

By Rob Farber

Oracle Layoffs Reportedly Hit SPARC and Solaris Hard

September 7, 2017

Oracle’s latest layoffs have many wondering if this is the end of the line for the SPARC processor and Solaris OS development. As reported by multiple sources Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Releases Deeplearn.js to Further Democratize Machine Learning

August 17, 2017

Spreading the use of machine learning tools is one of the goals of Google’s PAIR (People + AI Research) initiative, which was introduced in early July. Last w Read more…

By John Russell

GlobalFoundries Puts Wind in AMD’s Sails with 12nm FinFET

September 24, 2017

From its annual tech conference last week (Sept. 20), where GlobalFoundries welcomed more than 600 semiconductor professionals (reaching the Santa Clara venue Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Amazon Debuts New AMD-based GPU Instances for Graphics Acceleration

September 12, 2017

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) streaming service, AppStream 2.0, introduced a new GPU instance called Graphics Design intended to accelerate graphics. The Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

EU Funds 20 Million Euro ARM+FPGA Exascale Project

September 7, 2017

At the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre on Wednesday (Sept. 6), 16 partners gathered to launch the EuroEXA project, which invests €20 million over three-and-a-half years into exascale-focused research and development. Led by the Horizon 2020 program, EuroEXA picks up the banner of a triad of partner projects — ExaNeSt, EcoScale and ExaNoDe — building on their work... Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Delays, Smoke, Records & Markets – A Candid Conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro

October 5, 2017

Earlier this month, Tom Tabor, publisher of HPCwire and I had a very personal conversation with Cray CEO Peter Ungaro. Cray has been on something of a Cinderell Read more…

By Tiffany Trader & Tom Tabor

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Cray Moves to Acquire the Seagate ClusterStor Line

July 28, 2017

This week Cray announced that it is picking up Seagate's ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum. "In short we're effectively transitioning the bulk of the ClusterStor product line to Cray," said CEO Peter Ungaro. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Launches Software Tools to Ease FPGA Programming

September 5, 2017

Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) have a reputation for being difficult to program, requiring expertise in specialty languages, like Verilog or VHDL. Easin Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Chips – A Veritable Smorgasbord?

October 10, 2017

For the first time since AMD's ill-fated launch of Bulldozer the answer to the question, 'Which CPU will be in my next HPC system?' doesn't have to be 'Whichever variety of Intel Xeon E5 they are selling when we procure'. Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Advances Web-based Quantum Programming

September 5, 2017

IBM Research is pairing its Jupyter-based Data Science Experience notebook environment with its cloud-based quantum computer, IBM Q, in hopes of encouraging a new class of entrepreneurial user to solve intractable problems that even exceed the capabilities of the best AI systems. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Share This