In a previous post I mentioned that I’ve been talking to TV and film production houses for an upcoming supplement called Storage in the Studio. Often, these entertainment facilities solve their unique storage challenges (the need for blazing bandwidth and capacious capacity) with “me-too” “white-box” disk subsystems that use conventional interconnects such as Fibre Channel or Ethernet.
But Advanced Digital Services, a Hollywood-based post-production and media services studio, opted for a horse of a different color. The company is using JMR’s PeSAN architecture, which I think (correct me if I’m wrong) is unique in that it uses the ubiquitous, high-speed PCIe bus to connect hosts to JMR’s BlueStor disk arrays. Using the PCIe bus as a storage interconnect eliminates the overhead associated with Fibre Channel, Infiniband or Ethernet protocol conversion.
Russell Ruggieri, ADS’ director of engineering, says that the BlueStor-PeSAN combo is less expensive that traditional alternatives (JMR cites pricing of less than $1 per GB) and provides plenty of bandwidth for the studio’s non-linear editing work.
Ruggieri says the new storage configuration solved the performance problems associated with his Apple Xsan configuration, providing more than 1,000MBps of throughput and the ability to handle 4K-resolution formats. (JMR claims performance of more than 2,000MBps.) “It also makes it easy to add capacity, and JMR’s PCI adapters give me additional slots on the Macs,” says Ruggieri. ADS may replace the remainder of its 2Gbps Fibre Channel configurations with additional BlueStor systems in a PeSAN configuration.
I had heard about the PeSAN technology about four years ago when it was in development, but I was skeptical. (If it was such a good idea, why hadn’t anybody else thought of it?) But JMR may be on to something with this architecture. The company seems to be gaining momentum in application areas such as content creation, SD/HD video editing, and 2K/4K digital intermediate applications.