Third time lucky? Plucky upstart Infinidat plonks down monolithic array

Honking great flash cache speeds all-media-seeing controller engines

Analysis Infinidat is aiming to replace VMAX/DS8000/VSP-type arrays with its Infinibox product, and it’s making good progress, having shipped more than 200PB of installed capacity in two years.

An Infinidat briefing at VMworld added more information to what we have written here, here and here, about founder Moshe Yanai’s third attempt at disrupting the top-end storage array market after Symmetrix (now VMAX) and XIV.

What we learnt at VMworld is that the Infinibox is an unashamed integrated hardware-software, high-end development, having no truck with vacuous software-defined storage notions.

CTO Brian Carmody said: “Enterprises want packaged systems. SW-defined storage is like communism. It looks really good on paper but not so good in practise. There’s integration risk for customers. It’s the most un-cloud-like proposition you can make.”

It has a hyper-parallel continuum architecture, a massive and de-centralised cache, and a fully symmetrical active grid. The system has four sets of components; host connectivity, controller engines, an internal InfiniBand network, and storage media.

It features triple-redundant power and data paths, and triple redundant hardware, which help it achieve its 99.99999 per cent uptime, meaning less than three seconds of downtime per year.

Facing hostwards there are 24 x 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports and 6 or 12 x 10GbitE ports. The system is ready for 16Gbit/s FC. Chief marketing officer Randy Arseneau said Infinidat is very interested in the NVMe fabric idea. We think it could be used internally in the system possibly as well as being a potential host-array link.

These lead to three controller engines, set up in an active-active-active configuration. Each is a server with x86 processor, DRAM and huge slugs of NAND cache. Altogether the system has 1.2 to 3.2TB of RAM and 24-48TB of SSD; making two levels of cache.

A 56Gbit/s Mellanox Infiniband network leads from them to 480 x 6TB 7,200rpm disk drives*, producing 2.88PB of raw capacity and more than 2PB of usable capacity in a rack. Each controller can interact with every disk drive, talking to them across a mesh, and each controller serves access to all LUNs and file systems concurrently.

Data storage scheme

The way data is stored is unique. Incoming data is split into 64KB sections and the system is, below the protocol drivers, simply a collection of 3.125 billion of these sections. Concepts such as hosts and volumes don’t apply to the caches and disk drives. Each section is given a checksum and an activity vector (AV) score.

This AV score relates to the IO activity for a section and a heuristic map of inferred relationship to other sections, with the aim being to keep an application’s hot working set data in cache as its workload develops. The aim is to have all read requests be served from DRAM or NAND cache.

The system’s software groups 14 sections with similar AV values into a stripe, and two parity sections are computed to create a 16-way stripe for persistence to disk.

Next, 16 disk drives are chosen from the disk pool and the 16-way stripe is written. We’re told there is non-deterministic drive selection, log-structured writes and statistically uniform utilisation of drives.


Each volume and file system is distributed across all disks in the system, meaning there are no hotspots and fast rebuilds if a drive fails; massively parallel RAID rebuilds in fact. There is an even:odd XOR RAID scheme, with no erasure coding or Reed-Solomon scheme.

What Infinidat has built here is a hybrid flash/disk array with high-end enterprise-class reliability and performance. It claims that it takes less than six minutes to regain data redundancy after a twin drive failure.

The system is power-efficient, drawing less than four watts/usable terabyte.

We are told the system has been designed to take future 20TB disk drives, meaning 9.6PB of raw capacity in a rack. Currently, it does not support file-level access via protocols such as NFS or SMB (CIFS). The system has been designed for multi-protocol support though.

Customer points

Infinidat said it has 100PB of storage in its lab, and that’s used for QA, Carmody saying that we “burn in every component for a month before we ship it to the customer".


Infinibox rack front display showing capacity, read and write IOPS

Its performance is said to be up to 750,000 IOPS with a bandwidth of 12GB/sec.

For Infinidat an enterprise customer is one who needs 1PB if storage; and that’s not necessarily a Fortune 1000 company.

We note five Infinidat progress markers:

  • 300+ employees with 100 hired since April
  • There are more than 100 customers
  • 200PB+ shipped since second half 2013 ship start date
  • In production at multiple F500 sites world-wide, such as such as AOL, Fidelity Investments, Barclays, Orange and Leumi Bank
  • About 18 per cent of revenue last quarter was from repeat business and proportion is growing
Next page: Competition

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Walmart accused of turning blind eye to transfer fraud totaling millions of dollars
    Store giant brands watchdog's lawsuit 'factually misguided, legally flawed'

    The FTC has sued Walmart, claiming it turned a blind eye to fraudsters using its money transfer services to con folks out of "hundreds of millions of dollars."

    In a lawsuit [PDF] filed Tuesday, the US regulator claimed the superstore giant is "well aware" of telemarketing fraudsters and other scammers convincing victims to part with their hard-earned cash via its services, with the money being funneled to domestic and international crime rings.

    Walmart is accused of allowing these fraudulent money transfers to continue, failing to warn people to be on their guard, and failing to adopt policies and train employees on how to prevent these types of hustles.

    Continue reading
  • HPE unveils Arm-based ProLiant server for cloud-native workloads
    Looks like it went with Ampere – which means a certain Reg writer lost a bet

    Arm has a champion in the shape of HPE, which has added a server powered by the British chip designer's CPU cores to its ProLiant portfolio, aimed at cloud-native workloads for service providers and enterprise customers alike.

    Announced at the IT titan's Discover 2022 conference in Las Vegas, the HPE ProLiant RL300 Gen11 server is the first in a series of such systems powered by Ampere's Altra and Altra Max processors, which feature up to 80 and 128 Arm-designed Neoverse cores, respectively.

    The system is set to be available during Q3 2022, so sometime in the next three months, and is basically an enterprise-grade ProLiant server – but with an Arm CPU at its core instead of the more usual Intel Xeon or AMD Epyc X86 chips.

    Continue reading
  • US weather forecasters power up latest supercomputers to keep you out of the rain
    NOAA makes it rain for HPE, AMD

    Predicting the weather is a notoriously tricky enterprise, but that’s never held back America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After more than two years of development, the agency brought a pair of supercomputers online this week that it says will enable more accurate forecast models.

    Developed and maintained by General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) under an eight-year contract, the Cactus and Dogwood supers — named after the fauna native to the machines' homes in Phoenix, Arizona, and Manassas, Virginia, respectively — will support larger, higher-resolution models than previously possible. The cost to build, house, and support and operate these machines, now operational, will cost $150 million over the next five years, we understand.

    “People are looking for the best possible weather forecast information that they can get,” Brian Gross, director of the Environmental Modeling Center for the National Weather Service, told The Register.

    Continue reading
  • Google said to be taking steps to keep political campaign emails out of Gmail spam bin
    Just after Big Tech comes under fire for left and right-leaning message filters

    Google has reportedly asked the US Federal Election Commission for its blessing to exempt political campaign solicitations from spam filtering.

    The elections watchdog declined to confirm receiving the supposed Google filing, obtained by Axios, though a spokesperson said the FEC can be expected to publish an advisory opinion upon review if Google made such a submission.

    Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. If the web giant's alleged plan gets approved, political campaign emails that aren't deemed malicious or illegal will arrive in Gmail users' inboxes with a notice asking recipients to approve continued delivery.

    Continue reading
  • China is trolling rare-earth miners online and the Pentagon isn't happy
    Beijing-linked Dragonbridge flames biz building Texas plant for Uncle Sam

    The US Department of Defense said it's investigating Chinese disinformation campaigns against rare earth mining and processing companies — including one targeting Lynas Rare Earths, which has a $30 million contract with the Pentagon to build a plant in Texas.

    Earlier today, Mandiant published research that analyzed a Beijing-linked influence operation, dubbed Dragonbridge, that used thousands of fake accounts across dozens of social media platforms, including Facebook, TikTok and Twitter, to spread misinformation about rare earth companies seeking to expand production in the US to the detriment of China, which wants to maintain its global dominance in that industry. 

    "The Department of Defense is aware of the recent disinformation campaign, first reported by Mandiant, against Lynas Rare Earth Ltd., a rare earth element firm seeking to establish production capacity in the United States and partner nations, as well as other rare earth mining companies," according to a statement by Uncle Sam. "The department has engaged the relevant interagency stakeholders and partner nations to assist in reviewing the matter.

    Continue reading
  • California's attempt to protect kids online could end adults' internet anonymity
    Websites may be forced to verify ages of visitors unless changes made

    California lawmakers met in Sacramento today to discuss, among other things, proposed legislation to protect children online. The bill, AB2273, known as The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, would require websites to verify the ages of visitors.

    Critics of the legislation contend this requirement threatens the privacy of adults and the ability to use the internet anonymously, in California and likely elsewhere, because of the role the Golden State's tech companies play on the internet.

    "First, the bill pretextually claims to protect children, but it will change the Internet for everyone," said Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University School of Law professor, in a blog post. "In order to determine who is a child, websites and apps will have to authenticate the age of ALL consumers before they can use the service. No one wants this."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022