In our previous newsletter, we discussed about green networks and green compute. In this newsletter, we look at storage, and how a new generation of storage technologies can help meet your green computing goals.
New generation of storage being built in major public cloud services, such as AWS, are built upon common x86 based servers, with generally available enterprise drives. These storage systems have proven to be highly scalable, reliable, and low-cost. Opensource software such as CEPH, and it’s derivatives, is usually the software of choice for cloud providers, when deploying storage systems. We wrote about “The Future of Software Defined Storage is Now” in an earlier newsletter.
With the maturity of CEPH, it is now feasible for anyone to build a storage system that is comparable, and even exceed the performance of traditional SAN-based storage systems. However, with the always-on nature of IT infrastructures, electricity and it’s ongoing running costs, is always a heavy burden on budgets.
There is now an alternative to power hungry storage systems based on x86 based Intel or AMD processors. ARM-based CPUs are well known to be extremely power efficient, and are commonly used in mobile phones so that we can have useful extended battery life. ARM-based CPUs are now being used to power storage systems, to achieve power efficiencies that returns savings over the lifetime of a storage system.
An example of such a storage system is from Ambedded MARS400, running CEPH that uses enterprise Hard-Disk-Drives (HDDs), is aimed at general-purpose workloads that requires moderate IOPs. The unique design of MARS400 is that each HDD is controlled by a low-power ARM processor. In a 1U shelf space in a single chassis, there is a total of 8x HDDs, each with it’s own ARM processor. This gives Ambedded the unique advantage of having the industry’s lowest failure domain, that is, a failure of 1 HDD is equivalent to a failure of a node. Compare this to a design where a x86 based server controls 16x HDDs.
With 8x ARM processors in a single 1U chassis, the total power consumption is less than 100W, compared to almost 200W for a similar system based on an x86 system. The saving in electricity is estimated to be at least 60%.
Using CEPH as the software to power the storage system, Ambedded is a Software Defined Storage system that can grow in scale to over several Petabytes, simply by adding another chassis into the stack.
Every few years, improvements in HDD technologies have meant that we have bigger drive capacity in the same 3.5” form factor that we are familiar with. For example, as of 2023, Seagate’s highest capacity enterprise drive, the Exos X20, is 20TB per 3.5” enclosure. In 1991, 32 years ago, Maxtor had a 40MB 3.5” HDD. We have an improvement of 500 thousand times over 32 years.
With the availability of high-density drives, we can store more data onto fewer modern HDDs. This will translate to less server nodes, and a lot less power consumption.
The rising energy costs have made it imperative for businesses to look for ways to optimize their IT infrastructure to reduce their electricity bills. The storage component of the computing infrastructure, which consumes a significant amount of power and generates heat, can be made more energy-efficient through the use of software-defined storage. The use of ARM-based CPUs in storage systems such as the Ambedded MARS400 can further enhance power efficiency and reduce electricity consumption by up to 60%.
Additionally, the availability of high-density drives means that more data can be stored on fewer HDDs, resulting in reduced power consumption. In light of the current high energy costs, businesses need to prioritize energy efficiency to save costs and improve their bottom line, by relooking into modernization of IT infrastructures.