Maximizing the benefits of all-flash storage for M&E workflows

Media and entertainment organizations are increasingly adopting flash-based storage to gain the performance required for critical workflows. They see opportunities to accelerate ingest, transcoding, rendering, and playout while giving editors a more responsive experience for working with multiple streams of high-resolution content. The move to flash is well underway. In a recent Quantum survey of media and entertainment organizations, more than half of respondents (53%) reported they currently use flash—and an additional 20% plan to implement flash for the first time soon.

Flash-based storage can deliver significant performance improvements compared with traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), but until recently, many flash storage systems failed to deliver on their full potential. Constrained by a data access protocol developed for HDDs, many flash solutions outperformed HDDs only in narrowly defined use cases.
That’s changing with the introduction of NVMe (non-volatile memory express) flash. This new technology removes performance bottlenecks so organizations can achieve the full benefits of flashbased storage.

Is NVMe storage right for your organization? Whether you work for a post-production house, broadcast facility, animation or visual effects (VFX) studio, or in-house corporate video group, NVMe storage can help address key performance requirements, enhance storage resource usability, and improve overall storage economics. By identifying the best use cases and selecting the right NVMe solution, you can maximize the value of flash.

IDENTIFYING WHAT IS NVMe?

NVMe was designed from the ground up specifically for flash-based storage. With NVMe, each CPU core communicates directly with storage using the high-speed PCIe bus instead of the slower SATA or SAS interface. Using PCIe, flash-based drives perform on par with memory instead of traditional HDDs. NVMe achieves that performance in part by supporting many more commands per queue than SATA or SAS protocols. SATA and SAS each have single command queues, which can handle up to 32 and 254 commands respectively. By contrast, NVMe can support approximately 65,000 queues with 65,000 commands per queue.
Compared with SATA and SAS, NVMe enables significantly faster reads. SATA supports approximately 50,000 random reads per second with SAS at 200,000. But NVMe can handle approximately 1 million random reads per second. Even with all those reads, NVMe keeps latency under 20 microseconds, compared with under 500 microseconds for SATA and SAS.

PROVIDING A RESPONSIVE EXPERIENCE FOR MULTI-STREAM EDITING

Many post-production houses are experiencing exponential growth in video content. Content producers are using more cameras and shooting more footage. As a result, post production teams must ingest large volumes of data and work with multiple video streams as they edit, correct color, apply effects, and complete other tasks. Much of that content is shot in HD, 4K, or higher resolutions, often at high frame rates, such as 60 frames per second.
Many clients then require post-production teams to work in higher-resolution digital intermediates than in the past. Whether the end goal is producing a social media ad or a blockbuster film, using these formats during post production helps deliver high-quality results. But highresolution formats also present storage challenges for post-production teams who now need to work with very large files.
In addition to requiring greater capacity, high-resolution workflows demand high-performance storage. Editors need sufficient performance to work with multiple streams of content without productivity-killing lag.
NVMe storage can help provide the robust performance your post-production team needs for high-resolution media. With NVMe storage, editors can easily work on two or four streams of 4K video, which might require 8 GB/sec or better performance. Additionally, NVMe enables you to avoid overprovisioning the storage infrastructure to achieve the necessary throughput, thereby further reducing operational costs.

TAPPING INTO HIGH PERFORMANCE FOR CRAFTING STUNNING VISUALS

Demand for lifelike CGI animation and jawdropping VFX is growing rapidly. For films, TV commercials, and video games, today’s producers and directors see animation and VFX as vital elements for generating exciting action sequences, creating new worlds, and keeping audiences engaged.
As a result, they are incorporating more animation and more effects shots into a wider array of projects.
Much of the work of animation and VFX artists is done at high resolution. Working with high-resolution media can yield better visual results while also enabling easier—and smoother—integration with high-resolution films, shows, and games.

But increasing demand for high-resolution animation and VFX has produced new technical challenges for creative studios. Beyond equipping artists with powerful workstations, studios must provide teams with high-performance storage systems. These systems need to deliver the performance for supporting multiple users working on large, high-resolution files. And these systems must enable high-speed playout.

NVMe technology was developed to enhance the performance benefits of flash-based storage. Until the introduction of NVMe, most flash-based storage—such as solidstate drives (SSDs)—used SATA or SAS technologies to connect storage with the rest of the computer system. But SATA and SAS were initially designed to support HDDs. As manufacturers developed newer, faster flash-based drives, these older technologies limited their performance.

Built on 100% NVMe storage, the Quantum F-Series helps
you achieve new levels of performance while improving
storage economics and streamlining operations.

Quantum F-Series storage can help your organization maximize flash performance for key elements of your media and entertainment workflows. Your team can work effortlessly with uncompressed 8K content, enable playout to multiple digital intermediates from a single volume, and support massive render farms of more than 1,000 nodes without data contention.
The F-Series also changes the economics of flash storage. With NVMe technology, the F-Series lets you unlock the power of 100 GbE networking. You can achieve ultra-low Fibre Channel–like latency within the cost envelope of Ethernet infrastructure. In addition, the F-Series is able to offer extremely high levels of performance in a dense form factor. As a result, your organization no longer needs to overprovision your storage to achieve the performance required by certain applications.

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