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Oct 27 2015

Quantum Unveils Xcellis Storage Platform for HPC

Whether they're chip manufacturers, server and storage vendors, or producers of networking gear – currently, every major ICT company is scrambling to gain a foothold in high-performance computing (HPC), the area considered to be the next big thing after Big Data and the cloud. And given the performance requirements and amounts of data to be processed, it's no wonder that engineers should be designing new storage hardware to support, or rather: enable the rollout of HPC systems. Xcellis is Quantum's latest foray into the area, intended to underpin its StorNext file and data management software.

According to the company's press release, Xcellis provides so-called "workflow storage," that is, a storage system specifically designed for highly data-intensive application scenarios such as video editing, medical research and imaging, gas and oil exploration, and intelligence/surveillance. An Xcellis system consists of two Workflow Director Nodes – so-called converged controllers for compute, network, and file system resources – and a "hybrid" storage array, called Workflow Director Storage, that's equipped with SSDs and HDDs and stores primary user (productive) data and metadata. Thanks to this fresh approach, Quantum was able to solve two problems at once. As an integrated platform that can replace several older appliances, Xcellis dramatically reduces the complexity typically associated with StorNext environments. Moreover, it's faster and easier to manage than previous StorNext hardware and smoothly scales from the tera- to the petabyte range.

Technically, the Director Nodes consist of a pair of 1U rack servers, each equipped with two six-core Intel® Xeon® E5 v3 processors and 64 GB of RAM for up to 32 virtual file systems. The operating system is CentOS 7; two 500 GB internal disks store operating system and configuration info. The Director Node connects to the LAN via four 1GbE links, and to the storage side via two 16 Gb/s optical Fibre Channel connectors. Upgrade options for larger configurations include an additional 64 GB of RAM as well as connectivity for tape, IP archive, NAS and DLC (Distributed LAN Client, a proprietary protocol from Quantum). The storage unit is made up of either a Quantum QXS-412 array with 48 or 72 TB capacity or a Quantum QXS-456 array with space for 224 or 336 TB of information. The initial capacity can be expanded by adding more QXS-412, QXS-424 or QXS-456 arrays to the mix; in its maximum configuration, an Xcellis rack may host a total of 10 billion files (1.4 billion of which are managed ones) distributed across 64 virtual file systems. To round out the new platform Quantum also offers three types of "standalone metadata arrays for use with 3rd party storage," i.e. integration into existing environments, where they take on jobs like storage provisioning and the like. As a result, the storage capacity managed with the help of Xcellis and StorNext could be virtually unlimited.

Xcellis is expected to start shipping at the end of November; pricing starts at $45,000 for a 48 TB configuration. For more details, see the Xcellis product page, or download the data sheet and the technical brief. More background info can be found at SearchStorage and The Register.


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