Petabyte is the new Terabyte

Posted By Tom Coughlin on April 27, 2012 08:07 am | Permalink

By Tom Coughlin
Coughlin Associates

Peter Jackson's the Hobbit is being shot at 48 frames per second (fps), six days a week, using 5K Red cameras shooting in 3D.  Total content generated each day is between 6-12TB.  James Cameron's Avatar follow-up movie is being shot in 3D at 60fps.

Modern high-end video cameras support frame rates as high as 120 frames per second, and at the 2012 NAB show, noted film director/special effects supervisor/inventor Douglas Trumbull said that he is doing video work at a full 120fps. As digital content capture encourages longer shooting times, a leading edge movie project can create multiple Petabytes of raw content. The lowering costs of capturing and storing rich media content means that projects that used to use terabytes of storage will now consumer petabytes.  Petabyte is the new Terabyte!

There were many examples of advanced storage systems for content capture and editing.  Following are write-ups on a few of the systems I saw.  

EditShare has created a convenient set of services including MAM, several ingest licenses as well as shared storage and archive support using their Flow and Arc (pictured below, right) systems combined with the Field storage units.  The company announced a new product, Atom, which is 40 percent lighter than Field and has four 3.5-inch drive bays and supports 1GB Ethernet as well as 10GB Ethernet.

NetApp was showing the well-designed E-5460 storage system that it acquired in the LSI Engenio acquisition.  Working with Atto and Quantum StorNext they showed a Final Cut Pro Media Content Management Solution managing 22 video streams with an aggregated sustained video read speed of 3.48GB/s.
Isilon, now firmly integrated into EMC, was demonstrating its scaled out storage for media applications. Livestream, a company providing on-line event coverage discussed how it has used Isilon scalable storage to meet its growing content demand.

DataDirect Networks showed its WOS Cloud Storage system for collaborative workflows as well as a new MXF server.  The MXF server can be used for paid ingest, copying and managing media content in a compact package.

Facilis showed their TerraBlock storage (pictured below) system that used 6Gb/s SAS drives and offered 600MB/s content transfers using Fibre Channel SANS (which should reach 16Gbps data rates in a short period of time).

Harmonic provides its MediaGrid systems that are being used in major media and broadcast central storage applications such as at Modern VideoFilm in Burbank.

Nirvanix was offering 1TB of cloud storage for free for 30 days for qualified NAB show attendees.  Nirvanix cloud storage is being used for a number of media and entertainment collaborative applications as well as content backup.
Active Storage intro duced its mMedia storage system.  This product continues Active's focus on media and entertainment post storage using efficient metadata storage to speed workflow processes.

Many other companies supplying storage for small and large scale digita l workflows were at the NAB including A3iO, Accusys xaSAN (whose ExaSAN was showing external PCIe storage arrays offering 1,200MB/s data transfers), Avere, CineRAID, CRU-DataPort, G-Tech,  IQstor, JMR, JetNAS, LaCie,  Nexsan, QNAP, SNS, Tiger Technology, Virident (in the AIC booth) was showing a PCIe FlashMax storage device to help accelerate workflow IOPS.

Some other surprising finds were a line of small storage devices servicing the digital cinema market offered by WiebeTech (part of CRU-DataPort).  Ciphertex had an extensive line of various size portable storage boxes including data encryption for storing and transporting post production video and audio content. Note that there were other cloud storage offerings at the NAB as described in another blog.

Storage solutions are fundamental to the continuing development of more immersive entertainment experience.  The sky is the limit on potential storage needs (and consequently system performance) for all aspects of modern digital workflows since more content translates directly into more resolution in time as well as space.  That is why there is so much digital storage on display at the NAB show and why there will be exciting storage opportunities in this industry for many years to come.