If you are looking for on-premises storage for media applications one thing that is probably on your mind is how to achieve better performance to address the expanding needs of 4K and UHD, HDR, HFR and their associated workflows. Moving from HD to UHD will typically increase the file size by a factor of three or more compared with 1080p. And adding high frame rates and high dynamic range creates additional bandwidth and capacity demands.
1GigE connectivity is not going to cut it anymore, making 10GigE the defacto starting point for connecting editing, grading, transcoding and other related systems. To compound things further, potential choke points in storage systems that use NAS gateways and node-specific access points can surface. This blog will explore how you can enable storage performance to meet the demand for 4K and UHD content in the most economical way possible.
Storage design checklist
Here’s a rundown of the design requirements that should be on everyone’s list when thinking about UHD storage solutions:
- A single file system no matter how large the storage system gets. This will help you avoid dealing with new volumes or mapped drives to access storage that is added over time.
- Add storage whenever you need it online to meet expanding capacity and/or bandwidth targets. You should be able to keep working without impacting performance. Once the new storage is online it should be available seamlessly and immediately for use.
- Mixed drive sizes. Over time, drive capacity goes up. So the same file system should allow different drive sizes to co-exist in a file system.
- Seamless drive replacement. You should be able keep working while drives are replaced without any impact on performance.
- No bandwidth bottlenecks. No individual device — whether gateway, access point or other hardware — should create a bottleneck for all or any subset of the users.
- Consistent performance at 1% to 99% capacity. No matter how much or little drive space has been used, you should get the same level of performance.
- No defragmentation or other maintenance. The system should perform consistently for months and years without needing downtime or scheduled maintenance intervals to get back any lost performance.
- No slowdowns due to peak usage. There should not be scenarios where “too many users” or “bursty workflows” affect the performance of your storage. The designed bandwidth should be available at all times, regardless of the number of active users.
- Highly redundant and resilient. Hot-swap drives, controllers and connectivity should be standard to ensure maximum uptime and offer appropriate RAID protection for your storage.
- No connection control limits. There should not be a maximum number of users and ideally no license fee to connect to the storage.
How SSD is a game changer for UHD applications
Years ago, Harmonic’s MediaGrid shared storage solution overcame the challenges mentioned in the previous section by connecting all users to all drives in parallel over an Ethernet network fabric. Not only does this remove choke points, but it also lets users maximize the combined drive bandwidth in a practical way.
Now that UHD applications are becoming a reality, SSD (Solid State Drive) storage has emerged as a solution that provides over five times as much real-world bandwidth as the same number of SAS drives. Getting this boost in performance makes UHD is much more accessible to media companies. They no longer have to buy a large number of drives just to get the target bandwidth. More bandwidth with fewer drives is particularly important if the number of hours of storage needed is low compared with the required bandwidth.
In summary, storage needs to adapt
As more and more 4K and UHD services are launched, storage requirements will continue to increase. To succeed in this 4K/UHD future, media companies need a storage solution that is flexible and can maintain high performance, no matter how many users there are or how large the storage system gets. MediaGrid is that solution, offering the option for SSD and support for a wide range of ingest and playout, nDVR and OTT applications.
Interested in learning more about UHD storage possibilities? Schedule a meeting during this year's NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Harmonic experts will be there April 6-11.
About Andy Warman
Andy Warman is the Director of playout solutions at Harmonic. He provides business development and strategic direction for Harmonic’s line of playout enabled solutions for cloud and appliances including Spectrum media server, the Polaris automation suite, MediaGrid shared storage solutions and VOS cloud-native media processing. Warman also serves on the board of directors ofthe Alliance for the IP Media Solutions (AIMS) and chairs the trade association’s Marketing Working Group. Warman joined Harmonic after 11 years at Harris Broadcast in product management, where he drove Harris’ channel-in-a-box strategy, server platform and storage consolidation initiatives. With deep domain experience in the production and playout arena, he also has experience in automation, news production, content creation and infrastructure common to broadcast workflows. Andy holds a degree in Electronics and Management Science from the University of Kent at Canterbury.