Violin Memory Zeros In On Primary Storage Tier with New Flash Offerings

By Michael Feldman

September 27, 2011

The assault on hard disk storage seems to be building with each new flash memory offering. This week, Violin Memory launched a new solid state memory line aimed to replace primary storage in the datacenter. The Violin 6000 Series flash Memory Arrays is designed as an all-silicon storage solution for data-intensive enterprise applications, and is intended to compete against disk-based solutions in cost, both upfront and operationally.

The company also added to its 3200 Series flash lineup. Geared for maximum performance, capacity, and flexibility, the 3000 offerings are slightly lower on the storage food chain than the new 6000 line. The new entry, the 3U Violin 3220, doubles the storage capacity of the 3200 Series from 10 TB to 20 TB (16 TB usable) and delivers 250,000 IOPS.

The 6000 platform is the bigger news for the company though. It incorporates high-end enterprise features such as reliability/redundancy, high availability, serviceability, and scale-out management. As such, it extends Violins storage reach into high-end use cases for tier 1 storage, opening up a potentially much larger market. The 3U product comes in two flavors: the 6216 performance array (1M IOPS; 16 TB SLC flash, 12 TB usable) and the 6632 capacity array (500K IOPS; 32 TB MLC flash, 22 TB usable). For write endurance, the SLC-based 6216 would be the logical choice at 800 PB of writes, versus the 6632 at 100 PB.

Violin’s new 6000 and 3220 highlights the company’s focused strategy to displace traditional disk-based storage in the enterprise. Unlike many SSD vendors, who are primarily offering a high performance tier 0 cache between disk storage and memory, Violin is looking to penetrate more deeply into the datacenter. “Across our product line we believe we can deliver both lower CAPEX and OPEX for tier 0, tier 1 and tier 2 applications,” says Violin CEO Don Basile “We think we can remove those disks from the datacenter and end up with what we call a flash and trash strategy.”

A number of industry analysts, not to mention storage vendors, are touting the so-called “flash and trash” strategy, a two-tiered storage model, in which solid state drives are used for all active storage and cheap, high capacity SATA disks for data that needs saving, but not quick access. Basile argues that such a model has two big benefits: First, replacing spinning disk with solid state flash saves a boatload of money by reducing floor space and power usage; and second, storage infrastructure is simplified enormously by flattening all the active data tiers into a single layer.

Arun Taneja, founder and analyst at Taneja Group, thinks Violin is paving the path to eliminating HDD-based systems but it will take three or more years for that to happen. He also believes at least some customers are going to need other high-end features, like replication and snapshot capabilities, integrated into the storage system, which is something the initial 6000 boxes don’t support yet. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” notes Taneja. “The fact that Violin is involved in building Rome is what is really important, in my view.”

Meanwhile, Violin is picking off a lot of low-hanging fruit, especially where I/O performance is paramount. The company was in a recent bake-off in which the customer required 40 TB (usable) with 500,000 I/Os. According to Basile, for traditional vendors that mean six racks of disk, with sub-20 percent utilization. The upfront cost for the disk-based solution was about $3 million, plus more than $3 million more for operational expenses. The customer ended up with the Violin solution, a 3000 series flash array. It delivered the requisite 40 TB, along with much more than 500K I/Os at sub-$1 million CAPEX and sub-$1 million OPEX.

“That’s what our global CIOs are looking at as they make this transformation from these giant beasts that ruled the earth — these dinosaurs — to a more nimble viable infrastructure that scales,” says Basile. ” This is where we think the memory array is not a slightly better mousetrap, but a way to catch mice differently.”

Violin certainly seem to be on the right track. Since the company launched its first solid state storage product into the market just 13 months ago, they’ve been in growth-only mode. For the fiscal year ending in January, they’re expecting to take in $100 million in revenue. According to Basile, that trajectory places them about 4 years ahead of Isilon or 3PAR during their initial ramp up. “Our growth rates are faster than any storage company in history on a revenue basis,” says Basile, who as the former CEO of Fusion-io, must have a pretty good idea of what fast starts look like.

As a privately held company, Violin is living off $110 million in funding from a number of investors, the biggest ones being Toshiba (the maker of Violin’s flash memory components), Juniper Networks, and an unnamed system/storage vendor. They might be getting close to cashing in though. The company’s growth spurt has them thinking about a public offering, and, according to Basile, they are looking to file an IPO in Q1 or Q2 of 2012.

The Violin CEO thinks 2012 is shaping up to be a transition year, in which a lot of big enterprise accounts will move their data from disk to memory arrays as a core storage tier. The company is trying to quickly gear up to catch that wave, piggybacking on partner companies like IBM and HP to help reach those customers and manufacturing partner Flextronics to churn out product.
With a current head count of just over 220 employees, Violin expects to at least double that by the first quarter of 2012.

Violin’s three biggest industry targets are financial services, government, and internet properties. In partnership with HP, they’ve produced an alternative to Oracle’s popular Exadata database (DB) appliance. Besides vanilla database and analytics work, Violin storage can be used for a range of “big data” applications including backtesting trading strategies for Wall Street firms, accelerating advertising analytics for companies like AOL (where a petabyte of Violin storage is deployed), and serving up real-time advertisements to mobile clients.

In the government space, primarily US defense and intelligence, the use cases are not for public consumption, but one can safely assume that the Violin gear is behind some serious, high-IOPS data mining. The largest deployment there is just over a petabyte for an unnamed US government agency.

For HPC-type applications, the company is increasingly looking at Hadoop clustering and Cassandra/BigTable applications. In addition, they teamed with IBM to demonstrate record-breaking file system performance of Big Blue’s General Parallel File System (GPFS), using Violin 3205 flash arrays as the metadata accelerator. HPC in general seems a rich opportunity for Violin storage, especially for their 3000 series memory boxes.

The new 3220, 6216, and 6632 products are already shipping, with the new 3200 box generally available. In the case of the 6000 offerings, only Violin’s strategic partners and customers have access to them for the time being, with general availability slated for Q1 2012. Basile says they can’t make enough of them right now to keep up with demand, adding, “we’ve pretty much sold all of them for the next 12 weeks.”

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!

German Aerospace Center Debuts AMD-Powered CARA Supercomputer

February 18, 2020

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) launched its new high-performance computer CARA (Computer for Advanced Research in Aerospace) at TU Dresden on February 5, 2020. Built by NEC and powered by first-generation AMD Epyc 7601 processors with a budget of more than 20 million Euros, CARA will... Read more…

By Staff report

Berkeley Lab to Tackle Particle Physics with Quantum Computing

February 18, 2020

Massive-scale particle physics produces correspondingly large amounts of data – and this is particularly true of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, which is housed at the Europ Read more…

By Staff report

Supercomputer Simulations Validate NASA Crash Testing

February 17, 2020

Car crash simulation is already a challenging supercomputing task, requiring pinpoint estimation of how hundreds of components interact with turbulent forces and human bodies. Spacecraft crash simulation is far more diff Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

What’s New in HPC Research: Quantum Clouds, Interatomic Models, Genetic Algorithms & More

February 14, 2020

In this bimonthly feature, HPCwire highlights newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From parallel programming to exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Massive GPU Cloudburst Experiment Plays a Smaller, More Productive Encore

February 13, 2020

In November, researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) set out to break the internet – or at least, pull off the cloud HPC equivalent. As part of thei Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Challenging the barriers to High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Cloud computing helps democratize High Performance Computing by placing powerful computational capabilities in the hands of more researchers, engineers, and organizations who may lack access to sufficient on-premises infrastructure. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Intelligent HPC – Keeping Hard Work at Bay(es)

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked for ways to make their lives easier. Over the centuries human ingenuity has given us inventions such as the wheel and simple machines – which help greatly with tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious. Read more…

ORNL Team Develops AI-based Cancer Text Mining Tool on Summit

February 13, 2020

A group of Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers working on the Summit supercomputer has developed a new neural network tool for fast extraction of information from cancer pathology reports to speed research and clin Read more…

By John Russell

The Massive GPU Cloudburst Experiment Plays a Smaller, More Productive Encore

February 13, 2020

In November, researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) set out to break the internet – or Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Eni to Retake Industry HPC Crown with Launch of HPC5

February 12, 2020

With the launch of its Dell-built HPC5 system, Italian energy company Eni regains its position atop the industrial supercomputing leaderboard. At 52-petaflops p Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Proposal Again Slashes Science Spending

February 11, 2020

President Donald Trump’s FY2021 U.S. Budget, submitted to Congress this week, again slashes science spending. It’s a $4.8 trillion statement of priorities, Read more…

By John Russell

Policy: Republicans Eye Bigger Science Budgets; NSF Celebrates 70th, Names Idea Machine Winners

February 5, 2020

It’s a busy week for science policy. Yesterday, the National Science Foundation announced winners of its 2026 Idea Machine contest seeking directions for futu Read more…

By John Russell

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Stopping Nervana Development to Focus on Habana AI Chips

February 3, 2020

Just two months after acquiring Israeli AI chip start-up Habana Labs for $2 billion, Intel is stopping development of its existing Nervana neural network proces Read more…

By John Russell

Lise Supercomputer, Part of HLRN-IV, Begins Operations

January 29, 2020

The second phase of the build-out of HLRN-IV – the planned 16 peak-petaflops supercomputer serving the North-German Supercomputing Alliance (HLRN) – is unde Read more…

By Staff report

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t 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

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

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

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

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

51,000 Cloud GPUs Converge to Power Neutrino Discovery at the South Pole

November 22, 2019

At the dead center of the South Pole, thousands of sensors spanning a cubic kilometer are buried thousands of meters beneath the ice. The sensors are part of Ic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed instances for storage workloads. The fourth-generation Azure D-series and E-series virtual machines previewed at the Rome launch in August are now generally available. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray Debuts ClusterStor E1000 Finishing Remake of Portfolio for ‘Exascale Era’

October 30, 2019

Cray, now owned by HPE, today introduced the ClusterStor E1000 storage platform, which leverages Cray software and mixes hard disk drives (HDD) and flash memory Read more…

By John Russell

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