SGI Maid for archiving15 April 2011
Once a critical enabler of the creative industries, SGI now has a new role in the industry, with innovative solutions in high power processing and in storage. Its NAB launch this year took a new approach to nearline archiving, offering a colossal 1.4 petabytes in a single rack cabinet – on spinning disks not data tape.The solution lies in a technology recently acquired by SGI called Maid: massive array of idle disks. As the name suggests, when not required the individual drives are spun down when not required. As a result, typically only 25% of the disks are spinning at any time, offering a dramatic reduction in power along with a claimed four-fold increase in the lifetime of each drive.The management software within the rack performs what SGI calls “disk aerobics”, routinely running each disk up to check both performance and integrity of the content. This sampling provides advance warning of problems so individual drives can be swapped out when close to failure.To the asset management system ArcFiniti appears as a single NFS device, connecting over 10 gigabit ethernet. The access time for content on disks which are spun down at the time of request is claimed to be around 15 seconds – faster than locating and loading an LTO tape in a robot. Regularly used content can be moved to an onboard high speed cache.Maid applications in the past have tended to be in the military arena. SGI has now brought it to media applications, as a partner to front line asset management.