Panasas Unveils New Storage Appliance with SSD Acceleration

By Michael Feldman

September 17, 2012

Panasas has launched ActiveStor 14, the company’s fifth-generation storage applicance aimed at high performance computing. The new offering adds solid state drives (SSDs) to what has been almost exclusively a hard disk-based (HDD) NAS storage line-up. The inclusion of SSDs into the company’s flagship offering is further proof that flash memory has become a mainstream storage technology for accelerating HPC workloads.

It’s also a recognition that HPC storage is more that just about streaming lots of data from cheap SATA drives. This has been the case for some time, even if the customers themselves were unaware of it. When Panasas surveyed 10 typical HPC sites (across government, finance, academia and manufacturing), it was found that 50 to 70 percent of their files fell into the “small file” category — defined as less than 64KB.

This was true even for those users whose storage capacity was dominated by very large files, and who believed high-throughput I/O was the crux of their storage needs. “The reality is that almost all customers are dealing with mixed workloads.” says Geoffrey Noer, Sr. Director of Product Marketing at Panasas.

The presence of so many small files suggests that directory information retrieval and random I/0 performance is a critical requirement across many HPC sites. At the same time, these users had a concrete need for high levels of streaming performance to feed at least a portion of their applications. The need for both bandwidth and IOPS from Panasas’ customer base was central to the inclusion of SSD hardware alongside high capacity SATA drives in ActiveStor 14.

Using flash technology isn’t exactly virgin territory for Panasas. In 2009, they came out with ActiveStor 9, an SSD-accelerated storage appliance that was aimed specifically at small file I/O. Since it depopulated disk slots in favor of SSDs though, ActiveStor 9 suffered on the throughput side.

With ActiveStor 14, the company delivers both IOPS and throughput by marrying big SATA disks with the latest SSD technology. The idea is to store all the file metadata on the SSDs as well as all the small file data. The idea is to put the vast majority of the “hot” data into flash, which should greatly increase I/O performance.

There are three ActiveStor 14 models available, each with its own mix of HDD and SSD capacity on the storage blade to serve different application profiles.

1. For large file throughput-oriented applications, each blade houses two 4TB SATA disks, one 120GB SSD and 8GB of cache. This is aimed at energy exploration, government, manufacturing, and academia. List price for 81.2TB of storage is $125K.

2. For more mixed workloads, they’ve come up with a blade identical to the one above, but with a 300 GB SSD. This configuration is targeted at analytics for biosciences, especially genomics. List price for 83TB is $145K.

3. For truly file heavy, random IOPS applications, they have a blade with two 2TB SATA disks, one 480GB SSD, and 16GB of cache. Panasas calls this one the ActiveStor 14T (for turbo) and it’s aimed at financial analytics, like Monte Carlo simulations for arbitrage modeling. Because of the greater ratio of SSD storage to HDD, this is the most expensive model, with a list price of $160K for 44.8TB.

But you get the performance you pay for. A shelf of ActiveStor 14T, with 27 data drives, delivered 20,745 operations per second (SPECsfs2008_nfs.v3) and an overall response time of 1.99 milliseconds. Using two shelves, operations per second doubled to 41,116 and overall response time was cut to 1.39 milliseconds.

It’s no surprise Panasas developed ActiveStor configurations designed specifically for financial services and biosciences, since those two verticals have seen the biggest uptick in sales at Panasas over the last year. According to company chief marketing officer Barbara Murphy, they have seen revenue grow by 5X in the financial sector and nearly 2.5X in biosciences since 2011.

Panasas revenue, in general, has been growing at a nice clip over the past 12 months, and actually has been on the rise for four straight years. But commercial sales are accounting for a much greater share now: from about 55 percent in 2011 to over 70 percent in 2012. With public spending on the wane a bit, and businesses investing more heavily in HPC, Panasas intends to put a lot of energy into serving these markets. “We believe that the commercial space is going to adopt high performance compute very aggressively over the next couple of years,” Murphy told HPCwire.

Over that same period, Panasas has grown their customer base from 300 to 400. They’ve has done so by relying more on their OEM partners, like Dell, HP, SGI, and Bull, to expand the revenue base. Today Panasas claims a nice selection of elite customers, including seven of the top 10 public oil & gas firms, NIH, the Beijing Genomics Institute, UCLA, Leicester University, and BNP Paribas.

In ActiveStor 14, they believe they have a platform that can compete very well in the analytics domain, especially against more expensive offerings from EMC Isilon and NetApp. At a price point of $4/GB price point for the 14T model and under $2/GB for the less SSD-rich models, they compare favorably with the $12/GB price of Isilon’s S200 and $9/GB for NetApp’s FAS6240. The latter delivers slightly better performance (using the SPECsfs2008_nfs.v3 benchmark), but is more than twice as expensive on a capacity basis.

Despite the ActiveStor 14 design being suitable for a range of analytics-type applications, Panasas will continue to focus on its technical computing/HPC roots, according to Noer. “Our goal here is not to go after the enterprise market,” he says. With the HPC on a very healthy growth trajectory, that should be enough to keep Panasas on its upward revenue path.

The company is demonstrating ActiveStor 14 gear this week at the HPC for Wall Street event in New York City and at the Trading Architecture Europe conference in London. Systems can be ordered today, with shipments slated for November 2012.

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!

Quantum Rolls – DOE Dishes $218M; NSF Awards $31M; US Releases ‘Strategic Overview’

September 24, 2018

It was quite a day for U.S. quantum computing. In conjunction with the White House Summit on Advancing American Leadership in Quantum Information Science (QIS) held today, the Department of Energy announced $218 million Read more…

By John Russell

Russian and American Scientists Achieve 50% Increase in Data Transmission Speed

September 20, 2018

As high-performance computing becomes increasingly data-intensive and the demand for shorter turnaround times grows, data transfer speed becomes an ever more important bottleneck. Now, in an article published in IEEE Tra Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

IBM to Brand Rescale’s HPC-in-Cloud Platform

September 20, 2018

HPC (or big compute)-in-the-cloud platform provider Rescale has formalized the work it’s been doing in partnership with public cloud vendors by announcing its Powered by Rescale program – with IBM as its first named Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Introducing the First Integrated System Management Software for HPC Clusters from HPE

How do you manage your complex, growing cluster environments? Answer that big challenge with the new HPC cluster management solution: HPE Performance Cluster Manager. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Clouds Over the Ocean – a Healthcare Perspective

Advances in precision medicine, genomics, and imaging; the widespread adoption of electronic health records; and the proliferation of medical Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices are resulting in an explosion of structured and unstructured healthcare-related data. Read more…

Democratization of HPC Part 1: Simulation Sheds Light on Building Dispute

September 20, 2018

This is the first of three articles demonstrating the growing acceptance of High Performance Computing especially in new user communities and application areas. Major reasons for this trend are the ongoing improvements i Read more…

By Wolfgang Gentzsch

Quantum Rolls – DOE Dishes $218M; NSF Awards $31M; US Releases ‘Strategic Overview’

September 24, 2018

It was quite a day for U.S. quantum computing. In conjunction with the White House Summit on Advancing American Leadership in Quantum Information Science (QIS) Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Accelerates AI Inference in the Datacenter with T4 GPU

September 14, 2018

Nvidia is upping its game for AI inference in the datacenter with a new platform consisting of an inference accelerator chip--the new Turing-based Tesla T4 GPU- Read more…

By George Leopold

DeepSense Combines HPC and AI to Bolster Canada’s Ocean Economy

September 13, 2018

We often hear scientists say that we know less than 10 percent of the life of the oceans. This week, IBM and a group of Canadian industry and government partner Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Rigetti (and Others) Pursuit of Quantum Advantage

September 11, 2018

Remember ‘quantum supremacy’, the much-touted but little-loved idea that the age of quantum computing would be signaled when quantum computers could tackle Read more…

By John Russell

How FPGAs Accelerate Financial Services Workloads

September 11, 2018

While FSI companies are unlikely, for competitive reasons, to disclose their FPGA strategies, James Reinders offers insights into the case for FPGAs as accelerators for FSI by discussing performance, power, size, latency, jitter and inline processing. Read more…

By James Reinders

Update from Gregory Kurtzer on Singularity’s Push into FS and the Enterprise

September 11, 2018

Container technology is hardly new but it has undergone rapid evolution in the HPC space in recent years to accommodate traditional science workloads and HPC systems requirements. While Docker containers continue to dominate in the enterprise, other variants are becoming important and one alternative with distinctly HPC roots – Singularity – is making an enterprise push targeting advanced scale workload inclusive of HPC. Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Wins Next NSF-funded Major Supercomputer

July 30, 2018

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) has won the next NSF-funded big supercomputer beating out rivals including the National Center for Supercomputing Ap Read more…

By John Russell

IBM at Hot Chips: What’s Next for Power

August 23, 2018

With processor, memory and networking technologies all racing to fill in for an ailing Moore’s law, the era of the heterogeneous datacenter is well underway, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Requiem for a Phi: Knights Landing Discontinued

July 25, 2018

On Monday, Intel made public its end of life strategy for the Knights Landing "KNL" Phi product set. The announcement makes official what has already been wide Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN Project Sees Orders-of-Magnitude Speedup with AI Approach

August 14, 2018

An award-winning effort at CERN has demonstrated potential to significantly change how the physics based modeling and simulation communities view machine learni Read more…

By Rob Farber

ORNL Summit Supercomputer Is Officially Here

June 8, 2018

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) together with IBM and Nvidia celebrated the official unveiling of the Department of Energy (DOE) Summit supercomputer toda Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

New Deep Learning Algorithm Solves Rubik’s Cube

July 25, 2018

Solving (and attempting to solve) Rubik’s Cube has delighted millions of puzzle lovers since 1974 when the cube was invented by Hungarian sculptor and archite Read more…

By John Russell

House Passes $1.275B National Quantum Initiative

September 17, 2018

Last Thursday the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) intended to accelerate quantum computing research and developm Read more…

By John Russell

AMD’s EPYC Road to Redemption in Six Slides

June 21, 2018

A year ago AMD returned to the server market with its EPYC processor line. The earth didn’t tremble but folks took notice. People remember the Opteron fondly Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17

Altair

AMD @ SC17

AMD

ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack

CEJN @ SC17

CEJN

DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17

Huawei

IBM @ SC17

IBM

IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17

Intel

Lenovo @ SC17

Lenovo

Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17

Microsoft

Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17

Supericro

Tyan @ SC17

Tyan

Univa @ SC17

Univa

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

Sandia to Take Delivery of World’s Largest Arm System

June 18, 2018

While the enterprise remains circumspect on prospects for Arm servers in the datacenter, the leadership HPC community is taking a bolder, brighter view of the x86 server CPU alternative. Amongst current and planned Arm HPC installations – i.e., the innovative Mont-Blanc project, led by Bull/Atos, the 'Isambard’ Cray XC50 going into the University of Bristol, and commitments from both Japan and France among others -- HPE is announcing that it will be supply the United States National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) with a 2.3 petaflops peak Arm-based system, named Astra. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

D-Wave Breaks New Ground in Quantum Simulation

July 16, 2018

Last Friday D-Wave scientists and colleagues published work in Science which they say represents the first fulfillment of Richard Feynman’s 1982 notion that Read more…

By John Russell

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

TACC’s ‘Frontera’ Supercomputer Expands Horizon for Extreme-Scale Science

August 29, 2018

The National Science Foundation and the Texas Advanced Computing Center announced today that a new system, called Frontera, will overtake Stampede 2 as the fast Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel Announces Cooper Lake, Advances AI Strategy

August 9, 2018

Intel's chief datacenter exec Navin Shenoy kicked off the company's Data-Centric Innovation Summit Wednesday, the day-long program devoted to Intel's datacenter Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

GPUs Power Five of World’s Top Seven Supercomputers

June 25, 2018

The top 10 echelon of the newly minted Top500 list boasts three powerful new systems with one common engine: the Nvidia Volta V100 general-purpose graphics proc Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Machine Learning Hype Cycle and HPC

June 14, 2018

Like many other HPC professionals I’m following the hype cycle around machine learning/deep learning with interest. I subscribe to the view that we’re probably approaching the ‘peak of inflated expectation’ but not quite yet starting the descent into the ‘trough of disillusionment. This still raises the probability that... Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

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