Panasas Rolls Out ActiveStor 18

By John Russell

July 9, 2015

Hybrid scale-out NAS specialist Panasas today introduced ActiveStor 18, the latest in its ActiveStor appliance line. According to the company, the new appliance features a 33 percent increase in density, is available in 4TB and 8TB hard drive configurations, and delivers 20PB and 200GB/s scalability. The product will ship in September.

“We’re now using Western Digital HGST He8 technology – a seven platter, helium filled design. This is also our first generation of ActiveStor with the file system support necessary to leverage 4KB native sector support,” said Geoffrey Noer, vice president of product management at Panasas. The amount of cache per storage blade was also doubled. (Specs snapshot below)

Panasas has mainly served HPC workflows with strength in traditional technical computing markets such as Oil & Gas, government, and manufacturing. The new release continues that focus but also supports the company’s new thrust into media and entertainment, which Panasas says is a market in transition and increasingly turning to HPC technologies. Company literature indicates ActiveStor 18 is well suited for mixed workloads: large file throughput, IOPS performance, and lowest cost per TB.

Of note, Panasas is one of the few storage vendors sticking with its proprietary storage operating system, PanFS, which the company considers an important differentiator: By closely integrating PanFS with the hardware, “You substantially improve reliability, manageability, and performance. PanFS provides a single global namespace for simplified storage management,” said Noer. That said, three protocols are supported: Panasas DirectFlow, NFS (Linux), and SMB (Windows).

The most important differentiator may be the Panasas two-blade hybrid architecture and DirectFlow protocol. “We have a storage blade and a director blade. The storage blade scales the amount of storage capacity and throughput performance; the director blades are responsible for metadata, small files, and transactional type of performance. Both of those resources scale as you scale the system,” said Noer. Separating the two functions (main storage and metadata handling) reduces the need to frequently interrupt the storage blade and boosts throughput performance.

In typical HPC workflows, said Noer, 60 to 80 percent of all of the files by count are smaller than 64 Kilobytes, they’re very small files, but all of those small files take up less than one percent of the file systems’ capacity.

Panasas AS18 Storage blade image_LR_FINAL_2015-07-09Also included on the appliance is PanFS RAID 6+, first introduced last summer by Panasas. PanFS RAID6+ is an intelligent per-file distributed RAID architecture implemented with erasure codes in software instead of traditional hardware RAID controllers. “Rebuilding drives was starting to be a problem even at 1TB or 2TB hard drives. Now with 6TB and 8TB drives you can be looking at upwards of a week or certainly days to do a rebuild in that sort of an environment with hardware RAID.”

“If you approach things very differently [as in RAID 6+] and protect the files instead of the blocks of hard drives you can limit the rebuilds to only the work that absolutely has to be done. So if we have a clump of bad sectors for example we only have to rebuild the files that touched the bad sectors, we don’t have to rebuild the entire storage,” said Noer. “If the whole hard drive actually dies, again we don’t have to rebuild the unused capacity, we only rebuild the files that were affected by that drive and avoiding rebuilds means not having to bring the performance of the systems down unnecessarily.”

Interest in RAID 6+ is growing according to a recent survey of 90 Panasas ActiveStor users in which 62 percent reported RAID 6+ will be important and 16 percent characterized it as critical. “About the only place RAID 6+ is not so valuable is in a very pure HPC scratch environment where the data is temporary and can easily be regenerated,” Noer said.

Snapshot of ActiveStor 18 features:

  • 33 percent Increase in Density: Western Digital HGST He Helium-filled 8TB drives; 480GB SSD optimized for RAID 6+; and up to 181.28TB per 4U shelf (0+11 config).
  • 4TB and 8TB Hard Drive Configurations: 4KB native sector size support and16GB cache per storage blade (2x compared to AS16). Benefits from the latter include aggregate throughput, random I/O, and NFS/SMB IOPS performance by increasing active data set in cache.
  • Linear Scalability: Field proven to 20PB and 200GB/s in a single, global namespace − 130 shelves, 2600 HDDs, 1300 SSDs.
  • Improved Director Blade Performance: 19 percent faster CPU (2.53GHz quad-core) improves metadata, small file and RAID rebuild performance.

Though at home in HPC, Panasas has begun looking towards broader enterprise opportunities. Media and entertainment is the first. “That segment has already gone from standard resolution to HD and now a lot of filming is being done in 4K resolution and media is being distributed in more formats. There’s mounting pressure on data storage they are staring to consider scale out solutions over older SAN technology,” said Noer.

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!

Kyoto University ACCMS Implements Fine-grained Power Management

September 19, 2018

Data center power management is a ubiquitous challenge and in few places is it more so than at Kyoto University Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies (ACCMS)) where power consumption limits were imposed followi Read more…

By Staff

What’s New in HPC Research: September (Part 1)

September 18, 2018

In this new bimonthly feature, HPCwire will highlight newly published research in the high-performance computing community and related domains. From exascale to quantum computing, the details are here. Check back every Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

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 development. Among other things it would establish a National Quantu Read more…

By John Russell

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

A Crystal Ball for HPC

People are notoriously bad at predicting the future.  This very much includes experts. In the Forbes article “Why Most Predictions Are So Bad” Philip Tetlock discusses the largest and best-known test of the accuracy of expert predictions which show that any experts would do better if they make random guesses. Read more…

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--and a refresh of its inference server software packaged as Read more…

By George Leopold

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

At HPC on Wall Street: AI-as-a-Service Accelerates AI Journeys

September 10, 2018

AIaaS – artificial intelligence-as-a-service – is the technology discipline that eases enterprise entry into the mysteries of the AI journey while lowering Read more…

By Doug Black

No Go for GloFo at 7nm; and the Fujitsu A64FX post-K CPU

September 5, 2018

It’s been a news worthy couple of weeks in the semiconductor and HPC industry. There were several HPC relevant disclosures at Hot Chips 2018 to whet appetites Read more…

By Dairsie Latimer

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

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

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

Leading Solution Providers

SC17 Booth Video Tours Playlist

Altair @ SC17


AMD @ SC17


ASRock Rack @ SC17

ASRock Rack



DDN Storage @ SC17

DDN Storage

Huawei @ SC17


IBM @ SC17


IBM Power Systems @ SC17

IBM Power Systems

Intel @ SC17


Lenovo @ SC17


Mellanox Technologies @ SC17

Mellanox Technologies

Microsoft @ SC17


Penguin Computing @ SC17

Penguin Computing

Pure Storage @ SC17

Pure Storage

Supericro @ SC17


Tyan @ SC17


Univa @ SC17


Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Franci 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

Intel Pledges First Commercial Nervana Product ‘Spring Crest’ in 2019

May 24, 2018

At its AI developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, Intel embraced a holistic approach to AI and showed off a broad AI portfolio that includes Xeon processors, Movidius technologies, FPGAs and Intel’s Nervana Neural Network Processors (NNPs), based on the technology it acquired in 2016. 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

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

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