Panasas updates flash-in-a-box HPC system plus high-capacity hybrid box

Panasas has revved its high-performance scale-out hybrid ActiveStor Ultra 100 storage with an all-flash version and an expanded capacity hybrid flash/disk Ultra XL system.

Tom Shea.

CEO Tom Shea said Panasas was working on an all-flash system in May last year. He envisaged life sciences customers using this with a half-petabyte starting level, compared to the slower and hybrid ActiveStor Ultra’s typical 1PB entry point. Panasas says its two new systems will accelerate AI/ML training, modelling and simulation, high-performance data analytics, and massive-scale data workloads.

Shea talked about the exponential data growth we’re seeing today in applications like life-saving pharmaceuticals and energy-saving autonomous vehicles, and choosing the optimal data storage foundation. “We’re introducing a portfolio of products for the first time in our history. Our storage appliances have been purpose-built to provide a diverse range of high-performance data solutions for all workload types at the best total cost of ownership.”

Here’s a snapshot table of Panasas’s ActiveStor product range: 

ActiveStor Prime is a high-performance scale-out NAS system.

All the systems run the scale-out and parallel PanFS operating system. The existing Ultra 100 has four nodes with SSD and HDD storage. A node is a server running the PanFS parallel file system. Getting rid of the disk drives means the ActiveStore Flash 100 nodes can be smaller and eight of them fit into the 4U enclosure, providing more parallelism per enclosure.

Panasas ActiveStor Flash 100 – its product name is the ASF-100.

The Flash 100 is a 2-tiered system with 368.7TB of SATA SSD capacity (6x 7.68TB per node) in U.2 format and 30.72TB of NVMe flash capacity with M.2 format drives. We don’t know the CPU details. Accessing client systems run a DirectFlow driver and file accesses pass through an ActiveStor director node to get to the Flash 100.

Panasas says the Flash 100 system has outstanding scratch and small and random-file storage performance. That makes it a good fit for AI/ML training, trading strategy back testing, life sciences and electronic design automation projects. It claims that PanFS with ASF-100 storage nodes is the industry’s best price per TB and price per GB/sec all-flash parallel file system offering.

The Ultra XL is effectively an Ultra 100 with almost double the disk capacity – 640TB vs 384TB. It has eight HDDs per node while the Ultra 100 has just six drives per node. The Ultra has three tiers – NVMe SSD, SATA SSD and its HDDs – but the Ultra XL has just two: NVMe SSDs and the disk drives.

Panasas ActiveStor Ultra XL

Panasas says the Ultra XL storage nodes deliver high performance for large-file workloads, HPC and AI/ML workloads with cooler and reference datasets, and long-term data retention. The capacity at rack level is impressive: 5.76PB of disk and 138.24TB of NVMe SSD. It plays the price/performance card again, saying the Ultra XL is the industry’s best price per TB large-capacity parallel file system product.

These two new systems – the go-faster Flash 100 and store-more Ultra XL – complement the mixed workload Ultra 100. They give Panasas systems ammunition to rebuff competition from DDN, Dell’s PowerScale, Qumulo and VAST Data, should Panasas’s HPC customer base consider alternatives. Go to Panasas’s product web page to find out more and access datasheets.