NAS & SAN server:

NAS and SAN Applications

Data warehousing and data mining applications are important drivers of and SAN configurations. Data warehousing is built around relational databases. Data mining is the process of retrieving the warehoused information. The efficiency of a database is directly proportional to the speed at which files can be stored, sorted, indexed and retrieved.

Solid State Disks can significantly improve the performance, efficiency and effectiveness of an external storage library. They can be attached directly to the library system or to the host system that is connected to the network. Figure 2 illustrates the two connection modes.

The degree of performance improvement achieved by using Solid State Disks in NAS and SAN structures depends on system configuration, application and application workload. In the library-attached mode, the data base index files are stored in each storage disk battery's cache SSD Solid State Disks, thus shortening the read access time by 10% to 80%, to nearly work memory performance levels. In the host-attached mode the cache SSD Solid State Disks stores a smaller amount of index files, eliminating the time needed to transfer these files from the external storage to the work memory. The result is a significant host performance improvement, but only about a 10% to 20% read access time improvement. Obviously, the host-attached configuration is less expensive than the library-attached one.

Cache SSDs Solid State Disks can also be used to store table files built from queries and to automatically update the dynamic table links of the relational databases.

The effectiveness of the storage services offered by storage service providers (SSP) depends not only on the availability of sufficient storage capacity, but also on the ability to provide the necessary IOPS and the transfer bandwidth required by multimedia services.

Real-time A/V applications are multimedia services that are the most demanding in terms of transfer performance. SSDs in A/V configurations enable the real-time delivery to subscribers of isochronous data for A/V services. These applications are viewed as key for the further development of the Internet and the access network layer.

Most high performance mechanical storage devices can support the performance level required by one compressed video channel. If the same mechanical storage device contains multiple video selections, the HDD performance level would not be enough for the host server to switch in real-time between video selections.

Solid State Disks provide the performance level that allows real-time low-latency switching between random video streams stored in the same storage device. This performance level satisfies the video-on-demand requirements for multiple subscribers. Further applications that can be satisfied are full-motion or freeze-frame video conferencing, A/V clip archiving and real-time A/V decompressing. Finally, Solid State Disks can provide the performance needed for real-time video and animation requirements.
The upper part of Figure 4 shows a Solid State Disk used as the high-speed front end in a configuration that satisfies the video preview performance requirements. In this configuration the SSD can store several minutes of multiple video selections clips to be visualized by users. Typically, one minute of an MPEG-2 compressed video file will require approximately 1 MB of storage.

The lower part of Figure 4 shows a Solid State Disk used as a high performance interim storage that improves the transfer bandwidth of the channel that delivers the decompressed video selection. The Solid State Disk access times are in the 30 to 50 nanoseconds (ns) range. This performance level can shift the video-on-demand performance bottleneck from the storage to the video server system, i.e., in a video-on-demand application the SSD storage will have to wait for the server, rather than the other way around.

Both of these types of applications, and many more, can be connected in NAS and SAN configurations and attached to a network.

RAID Applications

RAID subsystems are currently the most used storage sub-systems because of the high degree of data integrity and high data availability they offer. Data protection, accessibility and availability are the drivers for the success of RAID enterprise storage configurations. However, due to RAID built-in redundancy and data integrity enhancement algorithm, the performance is diminished in comparison to the performance of simple HDD configurations. The diminished performance can be significantly improved by using SSDs in the disk matrix, as illustrated in Figure 5.

The example shows a RAID 5 configuration, which uses distributed parity generation and checking mechanism. In the upper configuration the SSD is used as a resilient write cache or a supplemental read-write cache. In the lower configuration, in addition to the supplemental cache function, SSDs are used as matrix disk members. Theoretically, all disk members of a RAID configuration can be replaced with SSDs. The number of usable SSDs utilized is based on a trade off between performance and cost.

Depending on the application, SSDs can be used as write cache, parity disk or matrix disk. Using SSDs to write the parity information greatly improves the overall RAID performance, as parity generation delays the write operation in an all-mechanical RAID configuration.

RAID systems can be used either in stand-alone computing configurations or in networked configurations.
RAID, especially RAID 5, is nearly standard on configurations larger than desktop PCs.


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