Feeds

Ex-IntelCrayAkamai startup rejiggers virtualization

Servers splash in memory pool

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Get the Message?

As the name implies, this first instance of the RNA software is aimed at applications that use message passing algorithms (such as in parallel supercomputing and its MPI software stack) or publish/subscribe systems (which also pass around a lot of messages). RNAmessenger has been tested supporting hedge fund and other kinds of statistical trading applications, online gaming systems, and Web content caching. The company has a caching program called RNAcache, which it did not want to talk about today. In the future, RNA Networks will deliver versions of the products to support database management systems and ERP software stacks.

The RNA product stack has two elements. The first bit of the memory virtualization platform creates the memory pool from bits of server memory carved out from the individual server main memories inside the servers that are given access to the shared memory pool in the network. This underlying software keeps the memory coherent across the server nodes, much as NUMA and SMP electronics do in hardware.

So, let's say you take four server nodes, each with 16 GB of main memory. Then you add the memory virtualization code, allocating 8GB for each node's local memory and 8 GB for the global server memory. Because of the virtualization, each server node will see that it has 40 GB of main memory for applications to play with - 8 GB local plus 32 GB of shared global memory. The memory virtualization software runs on a hardware appliance, which is supplied by RNA Networks or run on a company's own server platform. The machines that are sharing the pool of memory can be linked to each other using InfiniBand or Ethernet networks, with or without RDMA.

The second element to the RNA stack is called RNAmessenger, and it adds a messaging engine and API layer on top of this and a pointer updating algorithm that makes an operating system running on one server node see the shared memory pool as its own main memory. Loadable kernel modules or drivers loaded onto the servers gives applications access to the shared memory and also keeps the global memory coherent. The underlying RNA virtualization can take advantage of RDMA technology, but does not require it. (RDMA allows machines linked to each other to directly access the memory of other servers in a network). One of the first products to support RNAmessenger is IBM's Cell hybrid Power chip, which has a DMA engine on each chip.

At one hedge fund that deployed RNAmessenger to accelerate its trading system, a cluster of servers could push about 6,300 transactions per second. Installing the code, the fund's nerds were hoping to get maybe 10,000 transactions per second, according to Cook. But RNAmessenger was able to crank out 53,000 transactions. And the software can push transaction response times down from milliseconds to microseconds, and on Wall Street, as on Main Street, time is money. (Unfortunately, a little bit of time is a lot of money for hedge funds, and a lot of time for normal human beings ain't worth all that much money).

Cook is not impressed with memory appliances, like the one from Violin Memory, and flash-based front ends that storage makers are adding to their disk arrays to boost throughput. "These technologies accelerate storage, but we are accelerating the application itself," he says with a laugh. He also heaped scorn on the overcommitment algorithms that server virtualization hypervisors are being outfitted with. "This overcommits memory by 800 to 1,000 per cent, and then along comes a peak workload - what now?"

So far, the RNA stack has been implemented on various Unixes and Linuxes, but does not have Windows support as yet. "We have the capability to do Windows, but it doesn't perform well yet," explains Cook. "But frankly, we have not yet seen a lot of Windows in the high performance computing segments where we are focusing."

The RNAmessenger software will deploy on 32-bit or 64-bit hardware and runs on Sparc, Power (not just Cell), x86, x64, and Itanium processors. And based on early tests, the software can provide anywhere from 10 to 30 times improvement in throughput performance on machines that scale to hundreds of nodes and multiple terabytes of main memory across the nodes. About a dozen companies have tested the code so far in production.

RNAmessenger is priced per server node and costs between $7,500 and $10,000 per machine, depending on the configuration and type of the server. The software at the heart of the memory virtualization has been patented and is most certainly closed source. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
'Urika': Cray unveils new 1,500-core big data crunching monster
6TB of DRAM, 38TB of SSD flash and 120TB of disk storage
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.