Panasas started out specializing in storage hardware, but more than 20 years later, the company relies heavily on its software stack to meet the storage needs of high-performance applications.
The company on Wednesday introduced new storage products called ActiveStor Ultra XL and ActiveStor Flash for high-performance computing and artificial intelligence applications. The products are built on the company’s PanFS file system, which orchestrates the movement of data in large clusters deployed on a network.
The ActiveStor Ultra XL storage product has up to 5.76 petabytes of storage in a single 42U rack, while the all-flash ActiveStor Flash with NVMe (shown in the header) supports up to 368, 64TB SATA SSD and 30.72TB NVMe SSD in 4U rackmount chassis.
The PanFS file system communicates with storage components on a network to manage large sets of data. The file system, built on Linux, has components that include the DirectFlow client application, which is a loadable file system driver that resides on a client’s compute node or computer; a director software stack, which runs on the director appliances to handle metadata management and also keeps the system healthy by monitoring storage cluster and cache coherency. A critical PanFS component orchestrates the movement of data and files across all nodes in the storage hierarchy.
“I know which storage nodes contain which elements of this file, I talk to them in parallel, bring all the elements and pass them to the application as if it were just an NFS request, but that’s not not the case,” Curtis said. Anderson, software architect at Panasonic.
The PanFS filesystem can run under Kubernetes, Anderson said, adding “we provide a POSIX filesystem namespace that is, in technical terms, consistent with cache on all clients.”
In POSIX file systems, an application sees either previous data or data that has been written. “We have the same semantics except between nodes,” Anderson said.
The new storage products are the first introductions to the company’s portfolio in more than 20 years. Until now, the company sold one product, ActiveStor Ultra, which went through many iterations.
“Before 2018 we were a systems company, after 2018 we are a software company,” Anderson said.
The company previously designed its own hardware because basic parts were not available. But with storage now a commodity, the company plans to ship its software stack to other OEM platforms, as high-performance computing PCs typically want to buy the compute nodes, networking, and storage from a single supplier.
“When the customer wants to buy PanFS, they buy our software pre-integrated with Supermicro hardware. This is the platform we are currently working with. We plan to expand to other platforms,” Anderson said.
To make PanFS viable for commodity hardware, the company rewrote the software stack, which now runs on Linux after a port of FreeBSD.
“That was the big push to get commodity hardware — revamping this whole software stack into Linux,” Anderson said.
A technology called dynamic data acceleration, which uses data size to make a data placement decision, was developed when the storage stack was moved to Linux. This is compared to a typical flash and hard drive storage stack in which “hot” data moves up to a storage tier faster and moves down as it cools.
“The idea here is that HDDs are great at delivering performance if they do a seek and then a very large transfer. They’re terrible if they do a seek and a small transfer. The key is to only put very large things on a hard drive. We have to put them somewhere so we put them in capacity flash. We separate the metadata so we know where everything is, the [index nodes] and directories all that, [and] put that on low latency NVMe flash. We can deliver about twice the performance per hard drive compared to our competitors because we do this magic inside the storage stack,” Anderson said.
Mark Nossokoff, research director and principal storage analyst at Hyperion Research, commented on Panasas products and new directions. “The latest additions to the Panasas product family address a mix of complex storage requirements resulting from the convergence of traditional compute-intensive HPC modeling and simulation workloads with data-intensive workloads. driven by AI,” Nossokoff said. HPCwire.
“By enhancing PanFS and delivering it on industry-standard hardware platforms…Panasas aims to provide a single storage solution that can satisfy the required balance of price, performance, and feature needs, regardless of the work in progress. of execution.”
The price of ActiveStor Ultra XL and ActiveStor Flash varies by customer, the company said.