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DDN IME flash cache, SFA operating system get updates

DataDirect Networks focused on performance and resilience in updates to its Infinite Memory Engine flash cache and Storage Fusion Architecture operating system.

DataDirect Networks updated its Infinite Memory Engine flash cache and Storage Fusion Architecture operating system to try to improve performance and resilience for higher-capacity flash storage systems.

Version 1.1 of the DataDirect Networks Infinite Memory Engine (DDN IME) nonvolatile memory express-based flash cache and I/O processing system adds support for the latest Intel Xeon Phi x86 processors -- code-named Knights Landing -- and 40 Gigabit Ethernet and 100 GbE networking. IME already supported 100 Gbps InfiniBand EDR and Intel's Omni-Path Architecture.

DDN IME is sold as software-only or on an appliance. DDN also improved the software to enable a cluster to nondisruptively handle a node failure and redistribute journaled data to the remaining nodes, as well as boost metadata and flash performance. IME added support for customer-configurable erasure code options, offering protection against the failure of one, two, or three drives or nodes.

The DDN IME software has server and client components and deploys in front of a file system or parallel file system. The IME client intercepts I/O fragments, applies erasure coding and then delivers the fragments to IME servers. The DDN IME servers manage the flash drive pool and internal metadata and arrange the I/O for optimal performance before synchronizing the data with the back-end file storage.

DDN IME enables faster rebuilds

DDN claimed the IME improvements would enable customers to rebuild 1 TB of data in less than four minutes, compared to peak rebuild times of approximately 2.5 hours with hard disk drives under RAID.

Laura Shepard, senior director of product marketing at DDN, based in Chatsworth, Calif., said the IME enhancements would help customers who are increasing the amount of storage they deploy for analytics and machine learning applications.

DDN IME 1.1 is due for general release in the third quarter.

SFA 11.0 update

The main new capabilities in the SFA 11 operating system are declustered RAID and erasure coding. SFA is the operating system for DDN's SFA14KX, GRIDScaler 14KX and EXAScaler 14KX storage systems.

"We're working on availability at scale with erasure coding everywhere across the product line," Shepard said. "Erasure coding is the data protection of choice on [DDN] IME and also on our [WOS] object storage. And now, we're also adding it for our persistent file system tier on our SFA product line."

We're working on availability at scale with erasure coding everywhere across the product line.
Laura Shepardsenior director of product marketing, DDN

Shepard said declustered RAID would enable the software-based sharding of parity data bits across a large pool of drives, compared to a small high-availability pool in traditional RAID. DDN will start with support for the equivalent of RAID 1, 5 and 6, and it will release more options later, she said.

"You can have a much lower percentage of your overall capacity dedicated to parity and still have a very high level of data protection," Shepard said of declustered RAID. "Plus, because parity can be distributed widely among a much larger number of drives than in a traditional RAID [configuration], you can rebuild much smaller bits from each drive, making the rebuilds much faster."

Shepard said DDN uses a technique called vertical rotation with its declustered RAID to mitigate latency. She said the system offsets writes from one drive to the next, so the drive's onboard cache is not overwhelmed.

"The adaptive resilience features really help the end user tailor how performant they want their storage to be versus how much redundancy they want built in," said Addison Snell, CEO of Intersect360 Research in Sunnyvale, Calif. "That's just a slider bar that people can tune on their own."

DDN steps up Lustre support

DDN also spotlighted its EXAScaler Enterprise Lustre Distribution and its work in the open source Lustre community in the wake of Intel's April announcement that it would discontinue its commercially supported Lustre distribution.

"They're really helping [to] provide a landing space for the stewardship of high-performance Lustre for enterprise in a supported way," Snell said. He said Intel offered the most significant commercially supported Lustre option, and DDN would provide "a safe haven" for high-performance computing users who "want an actual enterprise that's backing and providing support and contributing back to the open source community."

Next Steps

DataDirect Networks GRIDScaler helps Van Andel Institute with consolidation

Improve storage performance by using parallelism

Avoiding problems with SSD write caching

Dig Deeper on HPC storage

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