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    Wednesday
    Jul302014

    Some SSDs are not as energy efficient as you think

    I was talking to a storage expert the other day and he mentioned a customer that I have worked with has chosen to go all SSD in its data center.  I would assume the logic is SSDs are the most efficient solution and given their purchasing power they can get prices that few others can get, therefore the cost differential vs. HDD can become a non-issue.  I heard this and think I know some of the people behind this and I questioned their assumptions to use SSDs as storage solution that eliminates HDD.

    Digital Ocean has a lot of hype with their all SSDs environment and the idea that SSDs are the future can be a “false positive."

    Doing a bit of research I found StorageMojo recently posted on SSDs - hot, hungry and slow.

    High performance SSDs: hot, hungry & sometimes slow

    by ROBIN HARRIS on FRIDAY, 25 JULY, 2014

    Anyone looking at how flash SSDs have revolutionized power constrained mobile computing could be forgiven for thinking that all SSDs are power-efficient. But they’re not.

    In a recent Usenix HotStorage ’14 paper Power, Energy and Thermal Considerations in SSD-Based I/O Acceleration researchers Jie Zhang, Mustafa Shihab and Myoungsoo Jung of UT Dallas examine what they call “many-resource” SSDs, those with multiple channels, cores and flash chips.

    ...

    The price of performance
    Each flash die has limited bandwidth. Writes are slow. Wear must be leveled. ECC is required. DRAM buffers smooth out data flows. Controllers run code to manage all the tricks required to make an EEPROM look like a disk, only faster.

    So the number of chips and channels in high performance SSDs has risen to achieve high bandwidth and low latency. Which takes power and creates heat.

    Bottom line here are some insights.

    Key findings
    The many-resource SSD exhibits several characteristics not usually associated with SSDs.

    • High temperatures. 150-210% higher than conventional SSDs, up to 182F.
    • High power. 2-7x the power, 282% higher for reads, up to 18w total.
    • Performance throttling. At 180F the many-resource SSD throttles performance by 16%, equivalent to hitting the write cliff.
    • Large write penalty. Writes at 64KB and above in aged devices caused the highest temperatures, presumably due to extra overhead for garbage collection and wear leveling.

    And here is the kicker, a SSD can consume 2X the power of a HDD.

    The StorageMojo take
    This appears to be the first in-depth analysis of the power, temperature and performance of a modern high-end SSD. The news should be cautionary for system architects.

    For example, one new datacenter PCIe SSD is spec’d at 25w – higher than the paper found on slightly older drives. That’s twice what a 15k Seagate requires.

    The paper StorageMojo refers to is here.

    This paper closes saying many-resource SSDs are 4-5X more power intense than conventional SSD and HDD.

    Conclusions

    In this paper, our empirical analysis reveal that dynamic power consumption of many-resource SSDs are respectively 5x and 4x worse than conventional SSD and HDD. Many-resource SSDs generate 58% higher operating tem- perature, which can introduce SSD overheating prob- lem and power throttling issues. Based on our analysis, HW/SW optimization studies are required to improve en- ergy efficiency of modern SSDs in many user scenarios. 

    Tuesday
    Jul292014

    Electricity Demand Growth disappears, The Shift to Mobile contributes

    WSJ article reports on the mystery of Electricity Demand not growing the way the industry expects.

    Electric Utilities Get No Jolt From Gadgets, Improving Economy

    Electricity Sales Anemic for Seventh Year in a Row

    Five years and an economic recovery later, electricity sales at the Columbus, Ohio-based power company still haven't rebounded to the peak reached in 2008. As a result, executives have had to abandon their century-old assumption that the use of electricity tracks overall economic conditions.

    "It's a new world for us," says Chief Executive Nick Akins.

    Utility executives across the country are reaching the same conclusion. Even though Americans are plugging in more gadgets than ever and the unemployment rate had dropped at one point to a level last reported in 2008, electricity sales are looking anemic for the seventh year in a row.

    The article covers the energy efficiency shift.

    Energy efficiency blunts the impact of population and economic growth, because upgrades in lighting, appliances and heavy equipment reduce energy needs. In 2005, the average refrigerator consumed 840 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A typical 2010 replacement needed only 453 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

    There are various industries covered in their usage in the WSJ article, but the one thing that is not discussed is the shift to Mobile.  Especially kids.  Few kids want to jump on a computer.  First choice is their phone, 2nd is a tablet, then a laptop.  I don’t know about you, but the PC is gathering dust compared to the rest.

    Monday
    Jul282014

    Apple gives tour of Data Center Solar Farm to journalist

    The CilmateDesk posts a Youtube video.

    NewImage

    Mother Jones writes up what is shown in the above video.

    Inside the Huge Solar Farm That Powers Apple's iCloud

    Lisa Jackson on Apple's wide-ranging plan to green its act.

    | Mon Jul. 28, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

    It looks like the green efforts are part of Apple’s marketing strategy.

    After converting all of its data centers to clean energy, the Guardian understands Apple is poised to use solar power to manufacture sapphire screens for the iPhone 6, at a factory in Arizona.

    And in a departure for its reputation for secretiveness, Apple is going out of its way to get credit for its green efforts.

    "We know that our customers expect us to do the right thing about these issues," Lisa Jackson, the vice-president of environmental initiatives told the Guardian.

    Sunday
    Jul272014

    Airbus Lessons for Debugging A350 could apply to Data Centers

    Businessweek has an article on how Airbus is debugging the development of its latest aircraft the A350.

    Reading the article it gave some good tips/lessons that can apply to data centers.

    The term debugging is used which also equates to reducing  risk.

    The company has put unprecedented resources into debugging the A350—“de-risking,” as it’s called.

    The big risk is not the safety risk, but the cost of the plane.

    The engineering risk with the A350 isn’t that it will have chronic, life-threatening safety problems; it’s cost.

    When you get into the details the discussion can sound like a data center issue.

    The challenge, Cousin says, is that “in a complex system there are many, many more failure modes.” A warning light in the cockpit could alert a pilot to trouble in the engine, for instance, but the warning system could also suffer a malfunction itself and give a false alarm that could prompt an expensive diversion or delay. Any downtime for unscheduled maintenance cuts into whatever savings a plane might offer in terms of fuel efficiency or extra seating capacity. For the A350 to be economically viable, says Brégier, “the airlines need an operational reliability above 99 percent.” That means that no more than one flight out of every 100 is delayed by more than 15 minutes because of technical reasons.

    Airbus realized the past methods of slowly working the issues out was costly.

    Instead of a cautious, incremental upgrade, Airbus went for an entire family of superefficient aircraft ranging from 276 to 369 seats, with a projected development cost of more than $10 billion. The goal was what Airbus internally calls “early maturity”—getting the program as quickly as possible to the kind of bugs-worked-out status that passenger jets typically achieve after years of service.

    Many companies make it seem like the data center comes from their company, but in reality almost everyone is an integrator like Boeing and Airbus.

    Much of the early work was done not by Airbus but by its suppliers. While the company might look to the outside world like an aircraft manufacturer, it’s more of an integrator: It creates the overall plan of the plane, then outsources the design and manufacture of the parts, which are then fitted together. “We have 7,000 engineers working on the A350,” says Brégier, “and at least half of them are not Airbus employees.”

    And a smart move is to change the way you work with suppliers to be partners.

    Throughout the development process, teams of engineers were brought in from suppliers to collaborate with Airbus counterparts in Toulouse in joint working groups called “plateaux.” “You need to have as much transparency with your suppliers as possible,” says Brégier. “With such a program you have plenty of problems every day, so it’s bloody difficult.”

    And just like operations is critical to data center, airplane operations is the reality that needs to be addressed.

    The idea is not just to put the systems through every combination of settings, but to see how the whole aircraft responds when individual parts are broken, overexerted, or misused. That, after all, is how the real world works. “Every plane in the air has something wrong with it,” Cousin says.

    Name the number of companies who think about their data centers in the above way.  The list is pretty short.

    Saturday
    Jul262014

    Momentum Builds for what the smart people know, Moving out of AWS Can be a good Move

    AWS’s slowing growth is all over the news.  Here are two different views of what is causing the slowing growth.  

    The NYtimes’s Quentin Hardy says the problem is AWS needs a bigger sales team for the business market.  

    What Amazon’s service does have is a great roster of named clients, and probably lots more companies that aren’t ready to admit somebody else runs their computers. It has an enormous cloud and a technical understanding of global-scale computing that is second to none. All it needs is a bigger sales team for businesses and a way to get its checks signed faster.

    Zynga and Sony moved out of AWS years ago.  

     

    Lessons from Zynga & Sony on moving from Amazon AWS

     

    Earlier this month Zynga announced its move from Amazon AWS to its own private Z-Cloud. Sony also started to move increasing parts of its workload from Amazon to Rackspace OpenStack.

    There isn't so much in common between these different use cases, except for the fact that they may indicate the beginning of a trend (I’ll get back to that toward the end) where companies start to take more control over their cloud infrastructure.

    So what really brought Zynga and Sony to make such a move?

    MOZ dumped AWS.

     

    Moz Dumps Amazon Web Services, Citing Expense and ‘Lacking’ Service


    [Updated, 1/31/14, 12:01 pm] Seattle marketing technology company Moz had a worse-than-expected 2013 in terms of profitability and products. But what really jumped out at me in the privately held company’s startlingly frank review of the year was new CEO Sarah Bird’s blunt criticism of Amazon Web Services (AWS), which she says the company is leaving for reasons of cost, product stability, and service.

    Gigaom’s Barb Darrow says the AWS problem is companies are leaving AWS, prices are dropping, and competition is intense.

    First let’s start with the facts.

     AWS sales dipped this quarter. Amazon announced Thursday that for its second quarter, which ended June 30, the category that includes AWS saw a 3 percent sequential revenue slip. That “other” category — which also includes advertising services and co-branded credit card agreements — also logged 38 percent growth year over year. That sounds great until you realize year-over-year growth in the first quarter was 60 percent. There have been other slight quarterly dips in the category’s otherwise relentless rise over the past few years, but they’ve mostly happened between fourth and first quarters.

    NewImage

    The news is starting to leak that another company has joined the move out of AWS.

    However, a source familiar with Dropbox’s current strategy said the company lately has been moving more of its IT infrastructure away from AWS and onto its own turf. There are now 10,000 servers in Dropbox facilities running loads that had been on Amazon EC2, although it’s not clear what percentage of Dropbox’s computing requirements that represents. Dropbox is currently storing data both in its own data centers and on Amazon S3 until the end of the year, this source said.

    In closing Barb thinks AWS’s future has more pressure.

    So as rival public cloud powers add services and cut prices, and as more customers see the benefits of hybrid as opposed to pure public cloud computing, expect the pressure on AWS to ratchet up.

    AWS is in an out war with for the cloud with Google, Microsoft, and many others.  

    With this news of Dropbox moving out I would not want to be an internal AWS employee.  Jeff Bezos has got to be livid.  When internal PR shows the NYTimes saying all we need is more sales people I doubt that would calm the troops.