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What Does One Petabyte Of Storage (And $500K) Look Like?

What Does One Petabyte Of Storage (And $500K) Look Like?
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Meet The Petarack

We all know what a megabyte is, and gigabytes are familiar as well. Terabytes were more recently folded into our vocabulary. But there’s a good chance that many enthusiasts still haven't wrapped their minds around the idea of a petabyte.

In short, we’re talking about one thousand terabytes, or enough space for 20 000 Blu-ray movie rips. Although we’re a long way from seeing petabytes of data used in a desktop context, a company called Aberdeen recently offered to ship us a more business-oriented solution already capable of serving up a petabyte of data for a cool half a million bucks. I thought about taking the company up on its offer, but ultimately decided that there was no way for me to tax its potential given the equipment currently in our Bakersfield lab. So, I thought I’d push Aberdeen for more information on its creation and break down its internals.

What, exactly, does it take to deliver a petabyte of storage, and what do you get for that nice, even price tag of $495 000?

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Top Comments
  • 32 Hide
    anort3 , January 27, 2012 4:58 AM
    "Honey, I downloaded the internet!"
  • 23 Hide
    Benihana , January 27, 2012 4:40 AM
    It's difficult to imagine 1 PB in an area the size of a deck of playing cards, but I'm going to remember today when it does.
  • 19 Hide
    clownbaby , January 27, 2012 4:53 AM
    I remember marveling at a similar sized cabinet at the Bell Laboratories in Columbus Ohio that held a whole gigabyte. That was about twenty years ago, so I would suspect in another 20 we might be carrying PBs in our pocket.
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    lockhrt999 , January 27, 2012 3:57 AM
    I have always wondered about this. Thanks Chris. Keep it coming tom.
  • 23 Hide
    Benihana , January 27, 2012 4:40 AM
    It's difficult to imagine 1 PB in an area the size of a deck of playing cards, but I'm going to remember today when it does.
  • 3 Hide
    haplo602 , January 27, 2012 4:52 AM
    from my point of view, this is a pretty low to mid end array :-)
  • 19 Hide
    clownbaby , January 27, 2012 4:53 AM
    I remember marveling at a similar sized cabinet at the Bell Laboratories in Columbus Ohio that held a whole gigabyte. That was about twenty years ago, so I would suspect in another 20 we might be carrying PBs in our pocket.
  • 32 Hide
    anort3 , January 27, 2012 4:58 AM
    "Honey, I downloaded the internet!"
  • 12 Hide
    cangelini , January 27, 2012 4:59 AM
    haplo602from my point of view, this is a pretty low to mid end array :-)

    What do you work on, by chance? =)
  • 2 Hide
    razor512 , January 27, 2012 5:03 AM
    Seems like a decent setup, but the electric bill will be scary running a system like that.

    But then again, the servers I work on barely use 10TB of storage.
  • 0 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , January 27, 2012 5:06 AM
    I want to run RAID-0 on it; I'd like to see some benchmarks on THAT.
  • 0 Hide
    nikorr , January 27, 2012 6:09 AM
    Can u imagine this 25 years ago? Cool : )
  • 11 Hide
    Casper42 , January 27, 2012 6:40 AM
    Razor512Seems like a decent setup, but the electric bill will be scary running a system like that.But then again, the servers I work on barely use 10TB of storage.


    Lets see....

    I work for HP and we sell a bunch of these for various uses:
    http://www.hp.com/go/mds600
    Holds 70 x 2TB (and soon to be 3TB) drives in a 5U foot print.
    Can easily hold 6 of these in a single rack (840 TB) and possibly a bit more but you have to actually look at things like floor weight at that point.

    I am working on a project right now that involves Video Surveillance and the customer bought 4 fully loaded X9720s which have 912TB Useable (After RAID6 and online spares). The full 3.6PB takes 8 racks (4 of them have 10U free but the factory always builds them a certain way).
    The scary part is once all their cameras are online, if they record at the higher bitrate offered by the cameras, this 3.6PB will only hold about 60 days worth of video before it starts eating the old data.
    They have the ability and long term plan to double or triple the storage.

    Other uses are instead of 2TB drives you can put 70 x 600GB 15K rpm drives.
    Thats the basis for the high end VDI Reference Architecture published on our web page.
    Each 35 drive drawer is managed by a single blade server and converts the local disk to an iSCSI node. Then you cluster storage volumes across multiple iSCSI nodes (known as Network RAID because you are striping or mirroring across completely different nodes for maximum redundancy)

    And all of these are only considered mid level storage.
    The truly high end ignores density and goes for raw horsepower like the new 3Par V800.

    So Yes, I agree with haplo602. Not very high end when comparing to corporate customers.
  • 1 Hide
    Casper42 , January 27, 2012 6:45 AM
    Doh, meant to reply to cangelini not Razor.
    Sorry
  • -1 Hide
    issuemonkey , January 27, 2012 6:58 AM
    Agreeing with Caspe42, from our point of view at NetApp, a few points here a scarier:

    1/ the caching; you could have 48GB of ram or more, this is for your server between able to handle to load of your I/Os and nothing more. It requires real caching to proper handle identical request like specific files like word, excel, or even a vmdk.
    With proper caching, like the one we have on our gear, you can cache a couple of vmdk used to boot storm a full stack of virtual desktop... access it once on your disks, get it from fast SSD cache

    2/ looking at the pictures, the RAID adapter are not battery powered, so does it mean that there is no protection of your data during a controller lost? This is good to have a dual "server" to protect against failure but if you last writing to your DB are lost... basically, you run into trouble.
    Enterprise storage is using interconnect card between the controllers with some cache, we call that NVRAM, and if one is going down, this cache is battery powered and will be accessed by the remaining node to discard the set of data o disks.

    3/ they do speak about failover mechanism, this is also scary, is this automatically done in a transparent way for the different protocols?

    4/ there is no concept of tiering, performance or workload type. This kind of setup will not fit for all...

    Well you will understand like Casper42 said, this is quite an expensive not optimal setup!
    Check out http://www.netapp.com/us/products/storage-systems/
  • 3 Hide
    mbryans , January 27, 2012 7:00 AM
    Is there a portable version of this Petarack?
  • -1 Hide
    mbryans , January 27, 2012 7:02 AM
    How about portable 1 PB RAM Disk?
  • 0 Hide
    bernardv , January 27, 2012 7:10 AM
    OK boys, now bench this baby against this http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/storage/network/sonas/index.html :) 
  • 0 Hide
    issuemonkey , January 27, 2012 7:25 AM
    bench it against everything enterprise like...
    this is 360 3TB SATA drives, this is is not for performance but pure capacity like backup or cheap disaster recovery site :) 
  • 1 Hide
    haplo602 , January 27, 2012 9:02 AM
    cangeliniWhat do you work on, by chance? =)


    HP Storageworks EVAs and XPs ... also some EMC arrays ...
  • 2 Hide
    alidan , January 27, 2012 9:07 AM
    BenihanaIt's difficult to imagine 1 PB in an area the size of a deck of playing cards, but I'm going to remember today when it does.


    funny you mention that, i just did math a bit ago on the intel 14nm process.

    lets assume that chip size means nothing, because i cant find chip size of ssd boards so just pcb thickness of 1.5mm

    playing cards have an area of about 5645mm
    and are about 15.87mm thick

    in order to even cram 1/4 a pb into that area, you need to be at about a 9nm process. for a full tb, you need to be at a 4.5nm process.

    now i don't know about storage, but at least with the cpu, i remember it being said that 6nm would be the limit. well, 6 or 7 but 6 stands out more.


  • 0 Hide
    haplo602 , January 27, 2012 9:07 AM
    Casper42Lets see....I work for HP and we sell a bunch of these for various uses:http://www.hp.com/go/mds600Holds 70 x 2TB (and soon to be 3TB) drives in a 5U foot print.Can easily hold 6 of these in a single rack (840 TB) and possibly a bit more but you have to actually look at things like floor weight at that point.I am working on a project right now that involves Video Surveillance and the customer bought 4 fully loaded X9720s which have 912TB Useable (After RAID6 and online spares). The full 3.6PB takes 8 racks (4 of them have 10U free but the factory always builds them a certain way).The scary part is once all their cameras are online, if they record at the higher bitrate offered by the cameras, this 3.6PB will only hold about 60 days worth of video before it starts eating the old data.They have the ability and long term plan to double or triple the storage.Other uses are instead of 2TB drives you can put 70 x 600GB 15K rpm drives.Thats the basis for the high end VDI Reference Architecture published on our web page.Each 35 drive drawer is managed by a single blade server and converts the local disk to an iSCSI node. Then you cluster storage volumes across multiple iSCSI nodes (known as Network RAID because you are striping or mirroring across completely different nodes for maximum redundancy)And all of these are only considered mid level storage.The truly high end ignores density and goes for raw horsepower like the new 3Par V800.So Yes, I agree with haplo602. Not very high end when comparing to corporate customers.


    eh, an MDS is a bit above stupid JBOD :-))) they are build for capacity and basic redundancy. minimal performance.
  • 7 Hide
    freggo , January 27, 2012 11:21 AM
    anort3"Honey, I downloaded the internet!"


    ROFL... now I have coffee all over my keyboard. You owe me a cleanup, man :-)

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