Mellanox Powers EMC Scale-Out Storage

This week is EMC World, a huge event with tens of thousands of customers, partners, resellers and EMC employees talking about cloud, storage, and virtualization. EMC sells many storage solutions but most of the excitement and recent growth (per the latest EMC earnings announcement) are about scale-out storage, including EMC’s Isilon, XtremIO, and ScaleIO solutions.

As mentioned in my blog on the four big changes in storage, traditional scale-out storage connects many storage controllers together, while the new scale-out server storage links the storage on many servers. In both designs the disk or flash on all the nodes in each node is viewed and managed as one large pool of storage. Instead of having to manually partition and assign workloads to different storage systems, workloads can be either shifted seamlessly from node to node (no downtime) or distributed across the nodes.

Clients connect to (scale-out storage) or run on (scale-out server storage) different nodes but must be able to access storage on other nodes as if it were local. If I’m connecting to node A, I need rapid access to the storage on node A, B, C, D, and all the other nodes in the cluster. The system may also migrate data from one node to another, and rapidly exchange metadata or control traffic to keep track of who has which data.

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How Scale-Out Systems Affect Amdahl’s Law

Amdahl's LawIn 1967, Gene Amdahl developed a formula that calculates the overall efficiency of a computer system by analyzing how much of the processing can be parallelized and the amount of parallelization that can be applied in the specific system.

At that time, deeper performance analysis had to take into consideration the efficiency of three main hardware resources that are needed for the computation job: the compute, memory and storage.

On the compute side, efficiency has to be measured by how many threads can run in parallel (which depends on the number of cores).  The memory size affects the percentage of IO operation that needs to access the storage, which slows significantly the execution time and the overall system efficiency.

Those three hardware resources worked very well until the beginning of 2000. At that time, the computer industry started to use a grid-computing or as it known today, scale-out systems.  The benefits of the scale-out architecture are clear. It enables building systems with higher performance, easy to scale with built-in high availability at a lower cost. However, the efficiency of those systems heavily depend on the performance and the resiliency of the interconnect solution.

The importance of the Interconnect became even bigger in the virtualized data center, where the amount of east west traffic continues to grow (as more parallel work is being done). So, if we want to use Amdahl’s law to analyze the efficiency of the scale-out system, in addition to the three traditional items (compute, memory & storage) the fourth item, which is the Interconnect, has to be considered as well.

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See the Elephant’s Room in Vegas!

Las Vegas, Nevada is not only the home of games, art, shows and fun, also serves as home to one of the largest Hadoop clusters in the world!

 

Racks in the Switch SuperNAP - Photo Courtesy of Switch
Racks in the Switch SuperNAP – Photo Courtesy of Switch

During the upcoming 2014 EMC World show, we invite you to join us for an informative tour of SuperNAP, The World’s leader in Data Center EcoSystem Development and home of the 1000-node Hadoop cluster.  In this tour, we will show how a Hadoop cluster is deployed in a co-location data center, maintained and provide analytics tools for a large community of businesses and academic institutes. It will be a great opportunity to learn about actual working cluster workloads, design considerations and available tools for next generation businesses opportunities in Big Data.

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Virtual Modular Switch (VMS) Values for Your Data Center

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Building a large scale data center is not an easy task and one that includes considerable cost. The larger the cluster is, the larger the core switching element needs to be to carry traffic between servers and storage elements of the data center.

 

Multiple redundancy and distribution mechanisms are needed to avoid network outages, make implementations resilient and reduce the business impact of failed network elements.

 

The Virtual Modular Switch (VMS) solution provides a distributed core element to the data center.  The VMS is logically placed where you would traditionally place a chassis.  Its benefit is targeted for increased resiliency by offering built-in redundancy and distribution of the networking load between multiple elements.

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Mellanox and IBM Collaborate to Provide Leading Data Center Solution Infrastructures

Mellanox recently announced a collaboration with IBM to produce a tightly integrated server and storage solutions that incorporate our end-to-end FDR 56Gb/s InfiniBand and 10/40 Gigabit Ethernet interconnect solutions with IBM POWER CPUs.  By combining IBM POWER CPUs with the world’s highest-performance interconnect solution will drive data at optimal rates, maximizing performance and efficiency for all types of applications and workloads, as well as enable dynamic storage solutions to allow multiple applications to efficiently share data repositories.

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Advances in high-performance applications are enabling analysts, researchers, scientists and engineers to run more complex and detailed simulations and analyses in a bid to gather game-changing insights and deliver new products to market. This is placing greater demand on existing IT infrastructures, driving a need for instant access to resources – compute, storage, and network.

 

Companies are looking for faster and more efficient ways to drive business value from their applications and data.  The combination of IBM processor technologies and Mellanox high-speed interconnect solutions can provide clients with an advanced and efficient foundation to achieve their goals.

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4K Video Drives New Demands

This week, Las Vegas hosts the National Association of Broadcasters conference, or NAB Show. A big focus is the technology needed to deliver movies and TV shows using 4K video.

Standard DVD video resolution is 720×480. Blue-ray resolution is 1920×1080. But, thanks to digital projection in movie theatres and huge flat-screen TVs at home, more video today is being shot in 4K (4096×2160) resolutions.  The video is stored compressed but must be streamed uncompressed for many editing, rendering, and other post-production workflows. Each frame has over 8 million pixels and requires 24x greater bandwidth than DVD (4x greater bandwidth than Blue-ray).

 

Bandwidth and network ports required for Uncompressed 4K & 8K video
Bandwidth and network ports required for Uncompressed 4K & 8K video

 

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Mellanox Global Education Services: A Comprehensive Training Solution

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The world of information technologies is chaotic.  Technologists are expected to learn, keep pace and implement ever-evolving technologies.  As a technology manager, you will face challenges related to bridging the knowledge gap on your team.  Your education and training solution should address these needs:

  • Always available:  24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,  On Demand availability
  • A variety of education options including online, face to face instructor- led and remote training
  • Self-paced learning systems to allow learners to work around their own schedules
  • Operational flexibility
  • Customizable
  • Affordable

With these challenges in mind, Mellanox has customized its Global Education Services to provide more resources for your team.  All training includes:

 

  • Learners’ support channels, such as the “Ask the Expert” feature
  • Knowledge standardization and verification
  • Access to extra free content
  • Ability to track  and examine learner achievements
  • Official global certification by Mellanox

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Technology Training: You Can’t Afford to Skip It

 

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In our day to day tech lives, it is our goal to improve our team’s performance using the right combination of resources and budget, while showing the best return on investment (ROI). This can come at the cost of skipping technical training.

 

It’s a fact. We are all stressed. We face unreasonable deadlines, prioritization, immediate to-do tasks and budget shortfalls.  While trying to survive in this chaotic environment, I hear some customers saying:  “I don’t have the time to allow my tech team to get technical training.  Even if I have the time, I just can’t afford it.

 

Let’s think again.Market standards show that the average number of days a technology employee works each year is 207.  The average number of days dedicated to maintenance of ongoing projects is 170 (82.5%).  The rest (37 days) of the time is dedicated to “first-time operations and exploration”.

 

Studies have shown that every day spent in training reduces the ongoing maintenance time by 4% (per participant) on average.  This means that from 170 working days, you could save at least 6 days per year per employee if you just provide them just 1 training day.  Each training day reduces first-time operations by 20% on average. From 37 working days, you could save at least 7 more days.

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Mellanox Participating at GPU Technology Conference 2014

Shout out to anyone who happens to attend the GPU Technology Conference 2014! This conference is touted as the world’s biggest and most important GPU developer conference. Follow all the social conversation around the event using the hashtag #GTC2014. The conference will be held next week, March 24-27,2014 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA.

This is the fourth year I am attending this event and I will be hanging out at the “Ask the Expert Table” at the GTC. Feel free to swing by and chat about any of your burning questions you may have on GPUDirect RDMA with Mellanox InfiniBand!

 

GPUDirect RDMA

 

 

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Virtual Modular Switch (VMS): A Network Evolution Story – Part 3

Covered in previous blog posts (Part 1 and Part 2), the concept of the Virtual Modular Switch (VMS) is clearly an advantage for networks of medium to large scale.  As we move into huge networks where multiple modular switches are needed, this advantage reduces to the point where it is a matter of personal preference whether to implement using VMS or multiple chassis.

 

When the odds are even, this preference can come down to a matter of cost of equipment, cost of operating the equipment, certain network KPIs that need to be met or any other parameter that the network facilitator will care about.

 

The Mellanox implementation of VMS is based on our own ASIC design known as SwitchX. It is used as the fabric element in each of our Ethernet (and InfiniBand) product line of switches. SwitchX carries 36 high speed interfaces of standard 40 GbE which when used in a non-blocking fat tree topology, allows 18 ports to be used for external interfaces and 18 ports to be used as internal interfaces towards the spine layer of the VMS fat tree. Having 36 ports on each of the spine elements allows as many as 36 leaf elements.  The total number of external ports in a non-blocking two tier VMS is 36*18=648.

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