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A3CUBE HPC boffins: They've uncloaked. Now what?

CEO and chief techie chat to Willem ter Harmsel

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Comment A3CUBE, which came out of stealth on Monday, is the latest firm to gamble on in-memory networking, in its case using PCIe to create a very fast network with nanosecond latency between nodes.

Last week I had the chance to briefly speak with both the CEO Antonella Rubicco and CTO Emilio Billi, who ran me through the concepts.

According to CEO Antonella Rubicco: "RONNIEE is a data plane technology, designed to build massively parallel storage and analytics machines. It is different from all other existing interconnection networks due to its hardware-based shared memory facilities."

A3UBE CEO Antonella Rubicco

Antonella Rubicco.

Its technology centres on using the standard PCIe architecture to create an in-memory network between nodes. The product line is called RONNIEE Express and is comprised of PCIe Nics that can be used without a switch to connect nodes to one another.

CPU, memory and IO are directly connected to each other with 800-900 Nanosecond latency.

A3cube works by using "memory windows" to create a shared global memory container. This facilitates very low latency CPU-to-CPU and IO-to-IO traffic.

In addition to the In-Memory RONNIEE network, A3CUBE designed a storage OS called ByOs that leverages the in-memory Ronniee network to create a very powerful parallel computing system. The storage architecture is highly parallel with intelligent architecture between available CPUs and IO.

Emilio Billi

A3CUBE CTO Emilio Billi

A3CUBE benchmarked a multipoint setup between five nodes with 40TB of low-cost SSDs. Each node is supplied with a Ronniee 2S PCIe NIC, linking to four other nodes.

A3CUBE claims an astonishing 4 million IOPS and over with this setup. I hope to find out more about it in my next talk with Rubicco.

To get a handle on how its technology compares to Infiniband solutions, I asked the CEO to specify how A3CUBE compares to Xsigo's InfiniBand-based virtual I/O technology.

Rubicco added: "RONNIEE is a data plane technology. It is not designed to be a data centre network, virtualise I/O, or substitute Ethernet. It is different from all other existing interconnection networks due to its hardware based shared memory facilities.

"It is not designed to compete with IB. Rather, RONNIEE is a complementary technology designed to create a data plane without the limitation that Infiniband has like the need for RDMA and the poor performance of the sockets."

"RONNIEE is designed to build massively parallel storage and analytics machines, not to be used as a 'interconnection' as InfiniBand or Ethernet. It is designed to accelerate applications and create parallel storage and analytics architecture. With some of our partners, Ronniee will play also a role as data centre interconnection but at this point in time it is a complementary technology to Ethernet or IB, [and is] not a competitor in that space."

Go-to-market and VC status

Rubicco explained her go-to-market strategy too. The firm has a few direct customers that it works with, although there are talks with channel partners. Most importantly, A3CUBE is in talks with a few big players who are interested in potentially OEM'ing its technology.

At the moment it only has private capital. A3CUBE plans to raise venture capital and are "looking to team up" with VCs right now. ®

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