Nimbus Brings Half Petabyte Flash Storage to Market

By Michael Feldman

January 31, 2012

Storage maker Nimbus Data Systems has launched its newest product line, the E-Class Flash Memory System, which scales up to 500 terabytes per file system and is equipped with enterprise goodies like fault tolerance and high availability. The latest offering is designed to provide a faster, denser, and more energy-efficient alternative to high capacity disk-based systems and is being aimed at cloud infrastructure, mission critical enterprise applications, and high performance computing.

The E-Class builds on the success Nimbus has enjoyed with its mid-range S-Class flash storage offerings, which has propelled the company to three consecutive years of profitability. In 2011, with the help of some big wins at companies like eBay, the Nimbus collected five times the revenue it did in 2010.

The company’s strategy is based on a rather simple premise: offer flash storage at the same price point as the 15K SAS disk-based systems it intends to displace. By using enterprise MLC (eMLC), a NAND technology offers a sweet spot between the low-priced, consumer-grade MLC and the higher performance SLC NAND, Nimbus is able to build solid state storage systems in the $10/GB neighborhood. That puts the cost of Nimbus’ gear on par with high performance 15K SAS disk systems (although not the cheaper bulk SATA drives), while offering the superior performance, density, and energy-efficiency inherent in solid state storage.

Unlike some flash storage vendors like Fusion-io, who have built their business around PCIe connected solid state memory, Nimbus offers only externally connected flash-based systems. According Nimbus CEO and founder Thomas Isakovich, while PCIe flash solutions are fast, they are not scalable since they are captive to the server they inhabit. By offering the more traditional storage architecture, they’ve been able to go after users who are looking to replace or augment existing storage gear.

A growing client list attests to Nimbus’ success. Besides eBay, the company has sold S-Class systems to a number of other elite customers, who, at this point, have chosen to remain nameless. Isakovich says these customers include top providers in virtualization software, news/digital information, freight management, electrical power, and post-production technology. In the high performance computing realm, Nimbus has deployed systems at a “top 3” supercomputer center, a US DoD agency, a financial services firm that does portfolio optimization, and in three of the largest semiconductor companies.

Nimbus’ entrance into high performance computing was made all the more easy by the addition of InfiniBand connectivity to its S-Class storage last year. Although Ethernet connectivity is still fairly common in HPC storage setups, many users prefer to use InfiniBand for both the cluster interconnect and their storage infrastructure. “We’re finding our InfiniBand capability is getting more and more attention,” says Isakovich.

While the S-Class products were theoretically able were able to scale up to 250 TB per system, they lacked the redundancy and fault tolerance that would have made deployments at that capacity practical. Instead, customers like eBay who wanted a 100 TB or more of flash deployed a number of smaller storage systems and automated their management.

That’s where the new E-Class product fills the gap. These systems offer capacities up to 500 TB that can be managed under a single file system. Thanks to dual controllers in each enclosure, there are redundant paths to all storage. That enables software updates and automated failover to be performed without shutting down the system. Similarly, additional capacity can be added and individual flash modules can be swapped while the system is up and running.

The extra robustness enables E-Class systems to be expanded into the hundreds of terabytes range. According to Isakovich, this makes this latest product line the most scalable flash storage offering in the world, offering about 20 times the capacity of their closest competitor. “For the first time, people will be able to deploy large amount of capacity on flash, instead of using it for small-capacity tiering or caching,” he says.

The E-Class inherits all the capabilities of the mid-range S-Class, including RAID redundancy, spares, unified SAN and NAS support in a single system, the built-in HALO storage OS, and perhaps most significantly the $10/GB price. And although it uses the same NAND chips as the S-Class, Nimbus was able to package them more densely in the new E-Class

Specifically, the E-Class boxes hold 10 TB per rack unit, which is twice the density of the S-Class arrays and three times that of 15K disk storage. From an IOPS perspective, the advantages over disks are even more impressive, with an E-Class system delivering 14 times the I/O bandwidth as a comparably sized disk setup . And because its solid state, the Nimbus gear draws 80 percent less power than its spinning disk competition: 5 watts/TB versus 25 watts/TB, respectively.

Some of those disparities could widen even further. Nimbus is currently using 34nm NAND chips, but when sub-30nm eMLC flash silicon becomes available, storage densities will increase once again. Isakovich also thinks they will be able to package those chips into even tighter designs. Within 18 months, he says, they could have solid state systems on the order of 10 times the density of 15K-based systems. According to Isakovich, what they are offering today is “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Related articles

Nimbus Revs Up Flash Storage Offering

Nimbus Goes After HPC Market with Disk-Priced Flash Array

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

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

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

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