Exactly 50 years ago, Apollo 11 landed and the first humans walked on the moon. I'm pretty sure you'll have heard about this.
The rocket carrying the three astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 16 July 1969 and entered lunar orbit on 19 July.
While Collins remained in the command module of the Columbia spacecraft, Armstrong and Aldrin made their way to the moon surface with the lunar module “Eagle” the next day. A few hours later, Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon.
Armstrong radioed the famous sentences to earth, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed", and, just before he took the first-ever step on the moon: “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.
All-in-all, a successful mission that achieved the former national target set by US President John F. Kennedy of bringing a man to the moon and safely back to Earth before the end of the decade.
The next generation of innovation
It's not 50 years ago like the Apollo 11 mission, but there is another successful project in the modern-day IT and business world that could well equal the Apollo mission in terms of innovation.
On November 16th, 2015, the start of the Next Generation I/O (NEXTGenIO) project was officially announced.
NEXTGenIO is a co-creation project, consisting of eight consortium partners(1), which was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program(2).
Just like Kennedy at that time, the project members set themselves a goal: NEXTGenIO was to remove the I/O bottleneck of HPC workloads by bridging the gap between memory and storage with in-memory computing.
A key output of the project would be a prototype system built around Intel's revolutionary Optane™ DC Persistent Memory (DCPMM) technology.
The challenge of keeping up with data
Of course, not everyone runs HPC-based applications in the data center, but many of our customers face similar challenges. Many companies use applications with complex workflows that have to perform thousands of tasks or process a lot of data in parallel, thus putting a great deal of stress on the I/O systems.
Today’s in-memory databases are limited to traditional computing architectures, where memory is small, expensive and volatile. The same applies to virtualization projects that need high virtual machine density as well as to solutions in which ultra-fast storage is needed.
The Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory is a new memory technology that delivers a unique combination of affordable large capacity (up to 512 GB) with additional support for data persistence.
The increase in memory size compared to standard DRAM provide the opportunity to consolidate workloads that have been spread across several nodes (Which has left CPUs underutilized), to concentrating and consolidating workloads on fewer nodes, ultimately saving on the deployments necessary and maximizing CPU utilization.
Many mission-critical databases, especially in-memory databases such as SAP HANA, store large amounts of data in working memory. If a server goes down, either planned or not, it can take hours to re-load them.
Unlike DRAM, DCPMM retains its data if the power to the server is lost or the server reboots, while still providing near-DRAM performance.
Delivering innovation through co-creation
Focusing on maximum performance, Fujitsu designed, manufactured and validated the NEXTGenIO prototype system by leveraging non-volatile memory with persistence.
The prototype consists of a total of 34 compute nodes. Each of the servers is equipped with two second-generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Family processor CPUs, 3TB of DCPMM and includes a software stack to seamlessly support I/O and memory-intensive workloads.
This prototype computing cluster has been handed over and released to operations at EPCC’s Advanced Computing Facility at the University of Edinburgh this summer.
The NEXTGenIO consortium partners have already demonstrated impressive performance improvements with this new computing technology. One of these consortium partners is the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts), a research institute and 24/7-operational service, producing global numerical weather predictions and other meteorological data.
The ECMWF runs critical weather forecasts four times a day for the whole globe. Every forecast consists of around 20TB of data and the majority of this data is read within minutes.
“We handle hypercubes of data in six dimensions, which are expected to grow from 20TB to 100TB in a few years. What this NEXTGenIO project has enabled us to do is store a whole day’s worth of forecasts and analyze it in any direction without hitting I/O bottlenecks,” remarks Dr. Tiago Quintino, Senior Analyst, ECMWF.
“It’s a gamechanger that frees our scientists from the constraints of data access. As a persistent store, we estimate performance is ten times better on a node-per-node basis. If a parallel file system is a truck, this Fujitsu HPC platform is a racing car. One is designed for capacity, the other for speed.” (Case Study: Co-creation project tackles I/O challenges)
It’s time to activate your data!
And now it’s time to speed-up time-to-results for your data-intensive workloads: Non-volatile memory has landed! It’s only one small module inside a server, but one giant leap for your business processes.
The new DCPMM technology, first used in the NEXTGenIO project, is now available in a range of Fujitsu PRIMERGY and PRIMEQUEST servers.
Right at the launch of the latest PRIMERGY systems which are equipped with the 2nd generation Intel Xeon scalable processors, we were the first to submit a benchmark including the DCPMM on a PRIMERGY RX4770 M5, as well as the first to exceed the barrier of 9 billion initial records with the SAP HANA® Standard Application Benchmark Version 3.
The latest SAP HANA Standard Application Benchmarks Version 3, dated November 14, 2019, which was certified for PRIMEQUEST 3800B2 equipped with 9 TB of memory (3TB DRAM and 6 TB DCPMM), demonstrate that PRIMEQUEST systems can handle huge amounts of data and that DCPMM has no significant performance impact compared to standard DDR4 DRAM.
On the contrary, non-volatile memory offers new options for HANA configurations with many advantages, like typically around 10x reduced restart times, bigger and affordable memory configurations and the chance to consolidate scale-out configurations, resulting in reduced maintenance costs.
Further information about our servers and Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory can be found on our website.
(1) The consortium partners are EPCC, Intel, Fujitsu, Technische Universität Dresden, Barcelona Supercomputing Center, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Arm (formerly Allinea) and Arctur. For more detailed information on the project please visit the project website, nextgenio.eu.
(2) NEXTGenIO has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program under Grant Agreement no. 671951.