Feeds

Making big ones out of small ones: RNA networks

Memory aggregation

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Giving users more flexibility in how they configure systems to attack various workloads was a big thread running through SC09 last year. At the show, we took at look at three different companies who are, in one way or another, providing large system images. (Click to see our posts on ScaleMP, 3Leaf, and SGI.)

One company we didn’t get a chance to talk to at SC09 is RNA networks, a Portland, Oregon based start-up that has a unique take on pasting together small commodity hardware to give it big iron capabilities.

Over the holidays, we ventured downtown to RNA’s headquarters and spent some time with Product Manager Don Whitehead. As we sat down to meet, the steady rain had somehow turned to heavy snow, but we didn’t anticipate any problems driving as the temperatures were so warm that the snow wasn’t going to stick to the roads.

RNA does something it calls memory virtualization, although memory aggregation is probably a more apt description. Its software allows users to dedicate memory on compute nodes to a common pool that can be used by any systems on the network. Our pal TPM did a great job of writing up the whats, whys, and hows of RNA here, so we’re not going to duplicate his explanation. The major change from Tim’s story is that RNA has released its RNAcache product and is pushing forward in its sales efforts.

Where RNA’s approach is different from the others we mentioned above is that RNA is not trying to provide a cache-coherent SMP image built from distributed systems. RNA’s products are aimed at providing large, shared memory spaces only.

The company firmly believes that current quad-core and six-core chips provide more than enough CPU cycles to satisfy the majority of workloads. According to RNA, memory capacity is the major bottleneck: it has a good point.

While you certainly can throw a lot of memory into a quad-socket system, performance-sensitive users (think financial services, traditional HPC, predictive analytics, Web 2.0, etc.) hit the limits when they try to put huge objects or entire databases in memory.

To maximize performance, they typically have to buy high-end boxes with large numbers of memory slots, and then populate them with expensive 8GB DIMMs. Even 8GB DIMMs, however, still don’t provide large enough memory spaces for these customers.

With RNA, these customers can devote big (or small) chunks of memory from distributed systems to the common good. RNA's admittedly small customer base is doing exactly that – on a very large scale. One installation has 300 servers working off of an 11TB shared memory pool, which is an astounding amount of resource. RNA shared some performance data from their own tests and from customer tests, and the results are profound.

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Next page: Early adopters

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Docker kicks KVM's butt in IBM tests
Big Blue finds containers are speedy, but may not have much room to improve
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?
Enough hot air to carry a balloon to the Moon
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Dell The Man shrieks: 'We've got a Bitcoin order, we've got a Bitcoin order'
$50k of PowerEdge servers? That'll be 85 coins in digi-dosh
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.