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PMC has announced that Lenovo has selected PMC storage solutions for external connectivity in their ThinkServer product line. Lenovo is offering the Lenovo 8885E by PMC for 12Gb/s SAS applications. The low-profile MD2 form factor 8885E is an HBA that provides eight SAS/SATA ports for connectivity. HBA's are becoming more popular in the datacenter as new architectures arise to leverage scale-out storage and advanced erasure coding. PMC Sierra has been very aggressive on the SAS front and recently captured the goal of providing the most SAS ports on a single card. This has led to a leading position in the market, and PMC has currently shipped more SAS ports than their competitors.
The increased density has the side effect of lower power consumption per port, which resonates well in power-constrained datacenters. PMC has measured 40% lower power consumption than their competitors with the same number of devices connected, which results in a tangible TCO reduction for their customers. As a rough guideline most datacenters spec each watt of power as an incremental cost increase of $2 dollars per year. When deploying thousands of SAS adaptors this can lead to a staggering amount of increased cost if there is a difference of a few watts per port.
The quest for more storage has led to revolutionary breakthroughs in HDD technology. SSDs get the most attention in the storage world, but the incredible technology that goes into HDDs has created some of the most refined precision instruments in history. HDD density has increased 500 million fold since the initial designs were released in 1956. During the recent MMM (Magnetism and Magnetic Materials) Conference the ASTC (Advanced Storage Technology Consortium) laid out the continuing path of progress on the HDD front. Acronyms aside, the demand for more storage has resulted in billions of dollars in investments in new technology, and these new techniques are pushing us forward on the path to 100TB HDDs by 2025.
There are already 10TB HDDs on the menu for 2015, but they utilize SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) technology, which has some performance pitfalls. Helium drives have also come to the forefront in the quest for more density, and as demonstrated in our HGST Ultrastar He6 6TB Helium Enterprise HDD Review they deliver increased density, lower power consumption, and don't skimp on performance.
Intel enjoys a 97.8% share of the server CPU market, and with AMD continuing to slide, it hasn't looked like anyone can break Intel's stranglehold. Popular new architectures in the datacenter have brought about customized low-power designs that can handle light-impact workloads. Right-sizing servers to the task at hand lowers cost and eases cooling requirements, and ARM processors have attractive low-power features that have always been an interesting alternative in the datacenter. Some Xeons operate within a TDP envelope of 90 Watts, but many 64-bit ARM designs operate between 10 and 45 Watts. Low cost is also another incentive to use ARM CPUs, but a lack of specialized chips and systems has hampered expansion.
This radical reduction in power consumption has led many enterprise powerhouses, such as Red Hat, to institute development projects to boost software development for 64-bit ARM platforms. Microsoft has even gotten in on the ARM-compatibility act by developing Windows RT. RT has been a failure of sorts, but many consider it to be the gateway to ARM-compatible Windows Server flavors. The expanding ecosystem development to further 64-bit ARM processors in the datacenter has placed the onus on suppliers to step up with competitive ARM offerings. One supplier with considerable heft in the ARM category has remained conspicuously silent on server CPU models, until now.
Rob Crooke, the Vice President and General Manager of the NVM (Non-Volatile Memory) Solutions Group at Intel, announced the impending release of 3D NAND at Intel's Investor Meeting. Incidentally, the presentation was running on an Intel 3D NAND SSD to demonstrate the progress Intel has already made in integrating their new 3D NAND into a workable device. The launch was a bit light on technical details of the new 3D NAND, but now that images from the presentation are available we are posting more information.
The first Intel SSD was developed in 1992 and featured a whopping 12MB capacity, and continued die shrinks have led to 128Gb dies. The transition to mainstream Intel SSDs began in 2008, and the initial revisions utilized 2D planar NAND. The continued path of NAND development has led to denser designs that sped adoption by lowering the cost per bit. Samsung released the first 3D NAND product in 2014 with 128Gb of density, and Intel's 3D NAND is slated for release in 2015.
Intel helped pioneer the SSD market, and their continued innovation has led to a huge chunk of SSD data center market share. These statistics reflect the current market share of major industry SSD manufacturers. The chart is incomplete and only lists two competitors with NAND fabrication capability. Intel includes the market share of the WD subsidiary HGST in their overall market share numbers due to the HGST and Intel JDA (Joint Development Agreement). The JDA provides Intel NAND to HGST, and in turn HGST collaborates on engineering and manufactures the SAS SSD products.
Micron and Intel produce NAND together in their IMFT (Intel-Micron Flash Technologies) partnership, and Micron's market share is not listed. Toshiba is another fab-enabled competitor not present on the chart, in spite of their recent increase in market share. Toshiba is aggressively pushing further into the datacenter and has publicly disclosed their intention to capture 30% market share by 2016. SanDisk recently acquired Fusion-IO, so the SanDisk and Fusion-io categories of this chart actually need to be combined to get an accurate picture of their market share. SanDisk, according to IDC data, currently has the second largest market share, and SanDisk is also aggressively moving on several fronts to increase their market share. Samsung already has 3D NAND products shipping, but their market penetration lags behind the other competitors on the chart. Intel notes that in spite of the heated competition, they still control twice as much of the data center market as their nearest competitor.
Supercomputing 2014: The quest to understand the building blocks of the universe requires intense computing power, which in turn requires some of the fastest storage solutions available. CERN's Large Hadron Collider, which discovered the Higgs boson in 2012, will begin colliding elements with the most energy ever achieved in a particle accelerator in 2015. This requires transmitting 170 petabytes datasets to far-flung research centers around the world. The University of Michigan and University of Victoria are utilizing SanDisk's Fusion ioMemory solutions to handle the influx of data at their multi-site supercomputing project.
The universities need to create a data transfer architecture with the capability to transfer figures across 100 computing centers at 100Gb/s speeds. This isn't typically a huge problem if there is a distributed architecture, but this particular deployment needs to provide that capability from a single server. SanDisk Fusion ioMemory products are stepping in to fulfil the extreme performance requirements, and they are demonstrating a data transfer from the University of Victoria campus to the WAN in the University of Michigan booth (#3569) at the Supercomputing 2014 conference.
OCZ Storage Solutions is leveraging their homegrown Barefoot 3 controller and firmware in tandem with Toshiba A19nm NAND for the new Sabre 1000 SSD Series. OCZ's move to their own proprietary SSD controller is a big step that provides them with tremendous flexibility to tailor their products for different segments. The OCZ Sabre 1000 is geared for read-intensive workloads in high-volume hyperscale deployments.
The Sabre 1000 comes in capacities of 240, 480, and 960GB, and provides an economical alternative for administrators with light and mixed workloads. The SSD features PFM+ (Power Failure Management Plus) that protects data in the event of host power loss. Another key feature is the value-added StoragePeak 1000 SSD management system. This friendly and easy-to-use GUI allows central monitoring and management of the SSD.
Supercomputing 2014: In the world of HPC (High-Performance Computing) the bleeding edge is always the preferred route to realize insane computational power. HMC (Hybrid Memory Cubes) are the next big thing, and offer plenty of performance advantages over existing DRAM. The current generation of HMC technology sips power and provides more density and performance than existing memory technology. With 15 times the performance, 90 percent less space, and 70 percent less power consumption, it is easy to see why industry leaders are touting the advantages of HMC. The key to HMC adoption, as with any new technology, lies in the committees that establish industry-standard interface specifications.
The HMCC (Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium) was founded by Micron, Altera, Open-Silicon, Samsung and Xilinx in 2011 and has grown to more than 150 members. At Supercomputing 2014 the HMCC has announced the finalization and public availability of the HMCC 2.0 specification.
Supercomputing 2014: Intel and SGI combined their talents to create an HPC monster that touts 30 million IOPS of 4k random speed with 180GB/s of sequential throughput. Scaling storage performance and capacity in tandem is an ongoing challenge in the enterprise storage world, and old interfaces have been the primary culprit hampering these objectives. A diminishing point of returns is reached as more storage devices are added to the server, and performance begins to decline as latency increases. This is a particular pain point when utilizing RAID and HBA architectures in tandem with 2.5" SSDs.
Enter the PCIe SSD. Moving flash to the PCIe bus provides better performance scaling, but many initial revisions of PCIe SSDs leveraged existing standards, such as AHCI, for host communication. This leads to performance degradation and excessive CPU overhead as performance scales. As explained in our Defining NVMe article, NVMe is a new storage protocol designed specifically for non-volatile memory. A slew of architectural refinements combine to provide the best performance possible over the PCIe interface. Intel's DC P3700 (covered in-depth in our Intel DC P3700 1.6TB NVMe Enterprise Review) is one of the fastest PCIe SSDs available, and the combination of NVMe and consistent performance provide enhanced scalability when deploying multiple units.
Supercomputing 2014: Intel has announced a new Xeon Phi processor, code-named Knights Hill, at Supercomputing 2014. The Xeon Phi co-processors are the offspring of the Larabee project, and Intel has improved performance and inter-operability with each successive product generation. Knights Hill is a key advancement for Intel in the HPC (High-Performance Computing) market, and will leverage a 10nm process and integrate Intel's Omni-Path Fabric technology.
The Knights product series competes directly with NVIDIA in the supercomputing market, and Knights Hill is a natural progression of the product line which will enhance performance scaling and bandwidth while simultaneously reducing power consumption.
Knights Landing features the Intel Silvermont Architecture that is designed specifically for HPC applications. The architecture significantly boosts single thread performance by 3X in comparison to the Knights Corner product. The on-package memory tops out at 16GB and offers amazing bandwidth, over 5x more than DDR4. This stacked memory design also significantly reduces the power consumption of the memory subsystem by as much as 5X.
Supercomputing 2014: Huawei announced their new FusionServer X6800 products at Supercomputing 2014. The new FusionServer X6800 supports a variety of high-density nodes in a 4U chassis, which provides flexibility for different configurations of compute, storage, and GPU acceleration within the same server. The X6800 also supports the latest SSD configurations and offers two to four GE ports or two 10Gbe ports.
Huawei also announced a new liquid-cooled version of the FusionServer E9000. This blade server features cutting-edge heat dissipation technology in a 12U enclosure. This liquid-cooled behemoth features 16 slots and redundant power supplies, along with 40GBe or InfiniBand FDR (56G). The platform is built upon a scalable architecture that allows for dual or quad CPU nodes. Huawei will also be demonstrating the RH5885H V3 server, a standard 4U rack server that supports four Intel E7-4800 v2 processors, and the RH2288 V3, a dual socket 2U server rack that supports Intel E5-2600 v3 processors.