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!

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out plans to push deeper into climate science and develop more gran Read more…

By John Russell

Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021

June 22, 2017

The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale companies and their embrace of AI and deep learning – tha Read more…

By Doug Black

AMD Charges Back into the Datacenter and HPC Workflows with EPYC Processor

June 20, 2017

AMD is charging back into the enterprise datacenter and select HPC workflows with its new EPYC 7000 processor line, code-named Naples, announced today at a “global” launch event in Austin TX. In many ways it was a fu Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion: Deep Learning, AI Helping Drive Healthy HPC Industry Growth

June 20, 2017

To be at the ISC conference in Frankfurt this week is to experience deep immersion in deep learning. Users want to learn about it, vendors want to talk about it, analysts and journalists want to report on it. Deep learni Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Creating a Roadmap for HPC Innovation at ISC 2017

In an era where technological advancements are driving innovation to every sector, and powering major economic and scientific breakthroughs, high performance computing (HPC) is crucial to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. Read more…

OpenACC Shows Growing Strength at ISC

June 19, 2017

OpenACC is strutting its stuff at ISC this year touting expanding membership, a jump in downloads, favorable benchmarks across several architectures, new staff members, and new support by key HPC applications providers, Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major shakeups -- China still has the top two spots locked with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC: Extreme-Scale Requirements to Push the Frontiers of Deep Learning

June 17, 2017

Deep learning is the latest and most compelling technology strategy to take aim at the decades-old “drowning in data/starving for insight” problem. But contrary to the commonly held notion, deep learning is more than Read more…

By Doug Black

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD, Cray, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), IBM, Intel, and NV Read more…

By John Russell

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out pla Read more…

By John Russell

Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021

June 22, 2017

The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale Read more…

By Doug Black

AMD Charges Back into the Datacenter and HPC Workflows with EPYC Processor

June 20, 2017

AMD is charging back into the enterprise datacenter and select HPC workflows with its new EPYC 7000 processor line, code-named Naples, announced today at a “g Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion: Deep Learning, AI Helping Drive Healthy HPC Industry Growth

June 20, 2017

To be at the ISC conference in Frankfurt this week is to experience deep immersion in deep learning. Users want to learn about it, vendors want to talk about it Read more…

By Doug Black

OpenACC Shows Growing Strength at ISC

June 19, 2017

OpenACC is strutting its stuff at ISC this year touting expanding membership, a jump in downloads, favorable benchmarks across several architectures, new staff Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC: Extreme-Scale Requirements to Push the Frontiers of Deep Learning

June 17, 2017

Deep learning is the latest and most compelling technology strategy to take aim at the decades-old “drowning in data/starving for insight” problem. But cont Read more…

By Doug Black

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

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

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of “quantum supremacy,” researchers are stretching the limits of today’s most advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" processors. The infrastructure is based on the 68-core Intel Knights Landing processor with integrated Omni-Path fabric (the 7250F Xeon Phi). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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