This is part of a series of post from my time at Storage Field Day 13. You can find all the related content about it here.
X-IO has been around for a while. It has recently been going through some troubling times along with the storage industry as a whole. They had gone dark and I have not seen much about them since then. Like the Phoenix rising they are now they are ready to show off their new product at Storage Field Day 13.
They were founded in 2002 as the Seagate Advanced Storage Group with the goal to build a scalable storage array with zero trade-offs. The team included engineers from Digital Equipment Corporation, Hewlett-Packard and Storage Works. This eventually led to in 2006 the X-IO Intelligent Storage Element (ISE). Then in 2007 they were purchased by Xiotech based out of Minneapolis. In 2008 the ISE-1 product was introduced. Then in 2012 they moved to Colorado Springs which is where they had the SFD presentation. Some of the current products include iglu and ISE series.
Axellio is not for your general Data Center workloads. It is being built to solve specific problems. Problems that I did not know even existed. One of the use case examples was for the oil industry. Currently a survey ship will travel across the ocean surveying the ocean floor. This creates petabytes of data that gets stored on the ship. Not all of the data is able to be processed locally. This data will then be migrated to a data center somewhere else to be processed. This is just one use case that Axellio can help solve.
The platform itself I would call a form a converged system. Normally a converged system includes the storage, compute, and software. Axellio includes the compute and storage, but not the software. It would be up to the customer or partner to implement their own software stack to run on the hardware. Maybe sometime in the future they will also include the software.
The Axellio hardware is a 2U appliance which incorporates 2 servers or nodes. Each node has 2 Intel Xeon e5-26xx CPU’s and 1 TB RAM or NVRAM. This gives us in one appliance 4 CPU’s and 2TB RAM or NVRAM. With the current CPU’s that gives us up to 88 cores and 176 threads. Each appliance can hold up to 72 drives of Dual Port NVMe 2.5″ SSD drives which gives us up to 460TB of storage. This is achieved using 6 trays with 12 drives each. Offload modules can also be added. Such as Intel Phi for CPU extension for parallel compute or Nvidia K2 GPU for VDI. The appliances can all be attached to Ethernet switches ranging from 4x 10GB, 4x 40GB and up to 4x 100GB.
Architecture (What Really Matters)
FabricExpress is a PCIe interconnect that allows the two nodes to connect directly two the 72 NVMe drives. By using NVMe drives they are able to connect to the CPU directly over the PCIe lanes. This creates super fast local storage for the nodes to connect to. Normally in a converged system there would be an external switch that storage traffic would have to go across which always adds latency.
When it comes to performance Axellio does not disappoint. 12 millions IOPS with 35 microsecond latency at 60 GB’s sustained bandwidth at 4KB writes. That’s a lot of power in a little box. Below is an image of some more test that was only utilizing 48 drives.
One of the most exciting parts of the even was that I was able to go in the back and see where they were building this product. I could see all kinds of machinery that I had no idea how to use or what it was used for. You can open up a product once its shipped to you, but its an entirely different thing to see its different stages of being built. Really makes you appreciate what all goes into creating these products.
Axellio is being built to solve a problem that I did not know much about before the event. The problems it can solve can be very lucrative for X-IO and for the business that use it. They are one of the few companies that are doing something different when all the storage products are starting to look the same.
Fellow Delegate Posts
SFD13 PRIMER – X-IO AXELLIO EDGE COMPUTING PLATFORM by Max Mortillaro
Axellio, next gen, IO intensive server for RT analytics by X-IO Technologies by Ray Lucchesi
X-IO provided us the ability to attend the session. This included a shirt, USB drive and some Thai food.