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SGI Maid for archiving

18 April 2011

NAB News: Once a critical enabler of the creative industries, SGI is still exhibiting at NAB, with innovative solutions in high power processing and in storage. A new launch this year takes a new approach to nearline archiving, offering a colossal 1.4 petabytes in a single rack cabinet – on spinning disks not data tape, writes Dick Hobbs.

The solution lies in a technology recently acquired by SGI called Maid: massive array of idle disks. As the name suggests, 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 exercising each disk to check both performance and integrity of the content, and provides advance warning of problems so that individual drives can be swapped out when close to failure.

To an asset management system the ArcFiniti archive system (pictured) appears as a single NFS device, connecting over 10 gigabit Ethernet. The access time for content on disks that 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 is now bringing it to media applications, as a partner to front line asset management.

Also new from SGI at NAB is the InfiniteStorage 5000 (IS5000), a 4U, 60-bay, high-density 6GB SAS RAID array, which will begin shipping this month to provide "unprecedented density for mid-range storage workflows".

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