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Storage // Innovations

Scanning the horizon for the peak of AI performance

By Bill Bollengier - 2023-10-09

What happens when Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts combine innovative software-defined storage (SDS) with high performance NVMe SSDs? Good things. Fast and scalable things.

This blog focuses on the collaboration between Scan Computers International Ltd (Scan), PEAK:AIO, and Micron Technology. These three companies designed and delivered a performant, simple, approachable architecture that delivers the massive performance and capacity that many AI workloads demand (and the solution had to be within financial reach of mid-size customers).

Some outside of Europe may not know Scan. Scan is a specialist tech partner - delivering client hardware, infrastructure solutions, cloud computing and services - all with an obsessive focus on detail. Their deep, in-house expertise spans PC gaming, professional graphics, video editing, music production, high performance compute, and artificial intelligence platform design.

It started with a challenge
Scan’s proven expertise with AI system design told them there was simply no way that traditional enterprise storage could meet the storage demands from the coming generation of GPU-based systems. Existing storage hardware and software does not offer the throughput or the scalability that ever-growing, complex datasets and AI models need. Scan also knew their customers place a high value on RAID-protected data.

These demands led Scan to PEAK:AIO.

PEAK:AIO is a software-defined storage (SDS) platform designed from the ground up to meet the specific needs of AI workloads. It is deployed on standard x86 server technology to create an AI data server that delivers the ultra-low latency and incredible bandwidth needed to optimize GPU utilization.

Scan was confident that the PEAK:AIO SDS platform would be a key ingredient to building mid-scale GPU clusters with RAID-protected data. Scan was also confident that using PEAK:AIO and SSDs could deliver better throughput compared to legacy, HDD storage that used legacy data protection (like Linux MD RAID). Finally, experience told Scan that any traditional storage architecture would be too slow, too complex, too expensive, or all three, so they selected the PEAK:AIO SDS platform and high-performance NVMe SSDs to deliver the performance, manageability, scaling, and data protection needed – all at the right economics.

Micron 9400 NVMe SSDs complete the system
Micron’s track record as a market leader in SSDs led Scan and PEAK:AIO to collaborate with Micron in a proof-of-concept performance test. In this test Scan scaled the number of SSDs to validate system scaling while increasing storage capacity to house growing datasets and feed modern GPUs.

Scan selected the Micron 9400 SSD because Micron designed it specifically for throughput-critical workloads such as AI training. The Micron 9400 SSD is available in capacities up to 30 TB1 with sequential read throughput of 7GB/s and random 4KB read performance up to 1.6M IOPS.1

A wildly successful combination
By adding up to 24 of the 30TB Micron 9400 SSDs in the compact, 2U storage system, Scan easily exceeded its initial throughput goal of 150GB/s. In fact, testing showed that the configuration could achieve over 170GB/s.

This combination also clearly demonstrated the capacity and performance scaling that Scan’s customers need. As more Micron 9400 SSDs were added to the system with PEAK:AIO SDS (shown in light gray), performance scaled when compared to systems using legacy Linux MD RAID (shown in black) as illustrated below.

Graph showing increased performance with PEAK:AIO SDS and Micron 9400 SSD: linear scaling
Read performance scaling by protection type, PEAK:AIO SDS and Micron 9400 SSDs.

Conclusion
The combination of PEAK:AIO and Micron technologies yielded fantastic results, specifically fast and scalable things like:

  • Up to 650TB of RAID-protected storage
  • Over 170GB/s of throughput
  • Performance scaling linearly with additional drives

Through the collaboration of Scan, PEAK: AIO, and Micron, customers get exceptional AI workload capacity, performance, and scalability – marking a significant milestone in the journey toward putting AI benefits within the reach of businesses everywhere and moving affordable AI data performance from the horizon to the data center.

Ready to Learn More?
Learn more about all of Micron Technology’s data center SSD here, and learn more about the Micron 9400 SSD here.

Learn more about their Scan AI ecosystem here, and see the Scan press release on this project here.

Learn more about the PEAK:AIO AI solution lineup here. PEAK:AIO press release about this project is here.



1 Unformatted capacity. Formatted capacity is less. Complete specifications for the Micron 9400 NVMe SSD are available here: https://www.micron.com/9400.

Bill Bollengier, Director of Product Management, Storage Business Unit

Bill Bollengier

Bill Bollengier is a Director of Product Management in Micron’s Storage Business Unit in Folsom, California. He and his team oversee the strategic planning and product management of Micron’s high performance and mainstream data center solid state drive solutions for enterprise and cloud customers.

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