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Digital media, and visual and audio effects, require high bandwidth. Traditionally, artists creating these digital files relied on their workstations' DAS to store the images they created. In the '90s, a storage administrator wheeled storage systems from edit station to edit station as needs required, sometimes delaying the production of a feature as artists waited for access to the storage system. The advent of SANs and NAS clusters in the late '90s gave artists a quick and easy way to share and access storage.

Digital media is growing rapidly mostly because of the transition from SDTV to HDTV, as well as the use of higher resolution cameras. According to Coughlin Associates, an Atascadero, CA-based research firm, the storage required for content creation and distribution will grow from 750,000TB today to about 2,250,000TB in 2012, which is more than 2 exabytes. (An exabyte is equal to 1 quintillion bytes. This year, 1 exabyte of hard drive storage would cost more than $200 million.)

"With digital media production, the user's machine needs the best possible storage performance, especially if you're dealing with high-definition media," says Ted Richardson, director of product management at Studio Network Solutions in St. Louis, which specializes in storage technology for the media and entertainment industry.

"With media, where you need the most storage horsepower, the highest

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bandwidth and lowest latency is at the front end when an artist is pulling data off cameras or recordings and doing that first round of editing," says Richardson. "Artists need to deal with the raw footage that hasn't been compressed or turned into production yet."

Post-production and archiving needs
Dan Friedman, president of Non-Linear Solutions, a Los Angeles post-production company, had been using an older disk-based technology to do his post-production work.

"We started using the Archion [Inc.'s] Alliance product on the animated film Beowulf [released in 2007]," says Friedman. "We put in the Archion halfway through the production of Beowulf because [it was] newer technology and we were getting some drive failures on an older system." And because the company was entering the world of high-definition animation, a system that could "handle the bigger files seamlessly" was also needed, says Friedman.

"With the Archion system, six to seven users typically share an 8TB array," he says. "Scene by scene, they drop in high-resolution animation and that takes a lot of bandwidth."

This was first published in August 2008

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