Fusion-io used SIGGRAPH to show off its latest ideas in moving data around for VFX production. In the current Fusion-io VFX pipeline, up to 192 TB of data starts off moving relatively slow, shackled to old-fashioned spinning disks in a hybrid storage system, but accelerates quickly to blistering speeds in an ioTurbine cache system connected directly, via InfiniBand, to ioFX-equipped workstations. The solution is supported for use with Autodesk 3ds max, Maya, and Mudbox, Adobe Creative Cloud, Tweak RV, and Assimilate Scratch.
The story really started back in April, when Fusion-io shelled out $119 million to purchase NexGen, a maker of "hybrid" storage systems that leverage super-fast Fusion ioMemory alongside more affordable disk storage. Fusion-io rebranded NextGen as ioControl, and the results approximate the throughput of an all-flash memory server without the exorbitant costs.
At SIGGRAPH, Fusion-io demoed an ioControl hybrid storage system with 48 TB of disk storage (though it can be loaded up to 192 TB) and two servers running simultaneously, using flash for both reading and writing. Since each ioDrive can read and write at 1.5 GB/sec, two of them in an array can reach up to 3 GB/sec, allowing users to write to storage at those speeds via four 10GigE ports. (The slowdown comes when reading data from the system for the first time — the data has to be moved into flash from disk before it can be read out at full speed.)
Not fast enough for you? The next stop in the chain is an ioTurbine cache system, consisting of an HP Z820 workstation running Windows Server 2012 R2, two Cubix Xpanders (in use here as PCIe extenders), and eight 3.2 TB ioScale cards. The ioTurbine software caches up to 24 TB of data from the ioControl system on ioScale memory, which can reach a combined throughput approaching 12 GB/sec — enough for 12 compressed or eight uncompressed streams of 4K footage, according to Vincent Brisebois, Fusion-io's director of visual computing. Artist workstations (more Z820s, each with 1.6 TB ioFX cards on board) are connected to the ioTurbine system via Mellanox Technologies ConnectX-3 InfinaBand host channel adapters.
Among Fusion-io's customers is Pixomondo, whose digital effects supervisor, Adam Watkins, called the company's products a "core component" of its pipeline for Star Trek Into Darkness. "If you have a facility equipped with Fusion-io with the ioFX for workstatsion or ioDrive in the server, you get an overall productivity gain that increases efficiency of the equipment you already have," he noted in a prepared statement.