OK – so you’re using the latest and greatest video editing software: Final Cut Pro X, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Creative Suite, Adobe Premiere, DaVinci Resolve, Colorfront OSD, Assimilate Scratch, Joust, or any other popular editing and finishing software… You do a lot of editing, you have numerous digital content assets, creating many more each day, and you need a reliable and economical way to store them and a fast way to retrieve them. So, where do you turn? You look to JMR Electronics and their BlueStor Line of lightning-fast storage solutions!
I want to take an approach in explaining things as I’ve come to understand them – because the modern technology evolved as I was first entering into the “broadcast biz.”
JMR Electronics has been in business since 1982 – the early 80’s, in other words. This is about the time when Bill Gates (and we ALL know who HE is!) is credited with having said his famous quote that 640K of RAM is enough for anybody. Although he has adamantly denied making such a statement, it will live on forever on the Internet. Something that is provable, however, is a further testament to JMR Electronics’ longtime standing in the computer industry: they came into existence at about the same time as high-performance “cache” memory was used by IBM (and who could imagine a computer today without it!)
Incidentally, for those of us “in the biz,” cache memory is an innovative, combined synergistic method that utilizes both hardware and software, to move regularly used data from disk storage media into an IC (or “integrated circuit”) computer chip for high-speed access by the computer processor or CPU (Central Processing Unit).
While cache is definitely important, it takes a backseat to storage, in my opinion. As more and more digital content is created, there needs to be the ability within which to store it; and once it’s stored, an efficient way to retrieve it – sometimes by many persons at the same time (which requires bandwidth – the same thing that’s required for you to have multiple televisions connected in your home). Again, I digress.
Storage. In the beginning, when computers were house-sized, it took several “rooms” just to hold a few measly megabytes of information. When I saw my first computer mainframe (that wasn’t in an institution or some other government facility – and this was in the late 80’s – early 90’s), I remember seeing a 3U Rackmount hard drive (I didn’t know “3U” then) that held an amazing 10 megabytes! This was a smaller set-up at a fairly large company I toured – and they had MANY of these units.
It wasn’t long after that before I started seeing the 8” ‘Floppy Disk’ (which, by the way, could store a whopping 1 MB when I saw them! This was preceded by IBM’s 5 ¼” 360 KB floppy in 1981)).That was followed by the 5 ¼” floppy and then the 3 ½” floppy, each of which came in varying non-standard degrees by several manufacturers, but which have mostly been relegated museum status today. This brings us to hard disks. Brad Jones wrote a very informative piece about floppy disks in September, 2015, and how they are still being used in our nuclear arsenals (see here). But one 3 ½” floppy drive (at 1.44 MB) isn’t even large enough to hold a song recorded in mp3 format! That’s not even enough space to hold a decent photo taken by one of the earliest digital cameras, either!
At Broadcast Beat, our MAC Server (8-core Mac Pro) uses AXLE Asset Management software that indexes a mounted volume from the JMR BlueStor Share™ Networked Storage Server over the network. AXLE is designed for “work in progress” content workflows, but it also provides a “Video Archive component software” element to archive content projects to a separate disk location. AXLE systems are designed to be installed and configured in less than an hour; ours took a little longer, but not much more!
JMR Electronics’ BlueStor Share Networked Storage Server is perfect for us, as it’s engineered specifically for the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), multi-client content creation, production and post production markets that have need for Ethernet or Fibre-based, high-load applications (shared storage) requiring high sustained throughput, it is a storage appliance for file serving, digital A/V workflow storage, and backup storage; it’s available in 16, 32, 48, 64 and 96TB data capacities in a single 3U unit – expandable to as much as 672TB — AND it’s made in the USA.
The BlueStor Share Networked Storage Server features the use of two 6Gb SAS expanders and one or two 6Gb hardware RAID controllers to address eight disks per controller, each optimized for R/W performance to provide >100MB/s per disk data transfer rates, sustained, using 7,200 rpm SAS or SATA-3 disks. (It also supports 10K and 15Krpm disks, hybrid disks, or SSDs with lower capacity limits but higher read/write performance.) The system packs up to 96TB native capacity in the same 3U platform and is expandable via 6Gb SAS links for additional storage. It’s available in three economical, high-performance configurations: Business 64-bit, Premium Ultra, and HA Cluster 64-bit, which is an active-active system that mirrors all data in real time on a second unit and provides ~100% uptime, even in the event of multiple failures.
JMR Electronics recommends its server software “euroNAS,” which has a number of features for IT professionals and A/V professionals, including: AFP, NFS, SMB/CIFS and FTP support; built-in iSCSI and FC target; asynchronous replication that replicates storage to another server; snapshot replication that replicates live data quickly and reliability; and point-in-time snapshots that recover files to the earlier state. “Working closely with our technology partner euroNAS, we have been able to deliver simple, reliable, high performance storage for converged networks enabling our customers to be unlimited in their ability to expand applications to the cloud, virtualized and clustered environment,” said Josef Rabinovitz, president and CEO of JMR. BlueStor’s Share is perfect for online/near line storage, data backup and recovery, production (HD direct-to-disk) and video editing/post-production; NVOD and VOD content distribution; surveillance/security; high speed D2D; medical imaging; geo-spatial imaging, and pre-press (automated printing).
Aside from the huge storage capacity and almost unbelievable speed, I am repeatedly drawn to JMR’s BlueStor™ DigiLab™ Video Server (as shown on one potential arrangement – a portable video cart for ultimate mobility on set). It uses JMR’s renowned and patented PCI-Express DAS technology and can not only achieve but sustain transfer rates up to 1,600 MB/s while, at the same time, providing the processing power required to run complex digital applications via its dual 10-core Intel® Xeon processors, nVidia® (or other brand) graphics card, built-in BluRay writer and a 19-in-1 media reader. Together, it becomes a high-performance 16-drive laboratory optimized hardware and software RAID storage system with hot-swappable drive capability.
Not to sit on its laurels, JMR has also invested heavily in Thunderbolt™ technology with its new line Lightning, Thunderbolt enabled products. An award winner at last year’s NAB 2015, the all new LTNG-XQ-8-DTMP is available as a tower or 4U rackmount unit and provides for quick and easy installation of a new Mac Pro, with a front or rear-panel breakout box for all the Mac’s I-O connections and 2-channel 20Gb/s Thunderbolt expansion; featuring an internal 6Gb SAS RAID controller and an 8-bay RAID disk storage system, this single unit becomes a wonderfully functional, high-performance addition to any Mac Pro, doing “everything in one box,” as opposed to complex and tiresome “multi-box” solutions.
As validation to the company’s innovation, a well-known and respected digital production systems provider, Light Iron division of Panavision, has selected the new JMR Lightning™ LTNG-XQ-8-DTMP rack mount Mac Pro/Thunderbolt™ RAID system to be an integral part of their new OUTPOST® Mobile Processing Lab. The OUTPOST® is a highly versatile mobile on-set workflow management cart available in specialized configurations and will include the JMR Lightning as an important part of the system.
“Adding the JMR Lightning Thunderbolt RAID docking system to the Outpost by Panavision cart streamlines a complex configuration of hardware into a convenient single rack unit. It creates easy access for Outpost’s many I/O ports, and its dual bus PCIe expander and RAID controller boost operating capacity, making Outpost the most powerful solution for on-set media management,” noted Aaron Kroger, Director of Outpost Systems, Light Iron.
On another front, JMR’s BlueStor PeSAN™ (PCIe Storage Attached Networks) technology DAS and NAS systems have higher bandwidth and faster data transfers than other designs, at costs very significantly below one dollar per Gigabyte. When using only 16 disk drives in dual RAID 5 sets (one 3U storage shelf), BlueStor reaches peak video editing transfer rates of greater than 1.7GB/s; 2.4GB/s (or greater) transfer rates are attained when using two storage shelves and 32 disk drives. Going to three shelves (48 disks) results in transfer rates in excess of 3.5GB/s! This puts cost at, roughly, $0.50/GB which is, arguably, the most affordable rate for video editing & production in the SMB and SME markets.
Incidentally, JMR Electronics was actually the first company to achieve a U.S. patent on PCI-attached storage and continues to be an industry pioneer of many PCIe-attached technology products. U.S. Patent #7,000,037, held by JMR, is for their “Large Array of Mass Data Storage Devices Connected to a Computer by a Serial Link.” According to JMR’s PeSAN White Paper: “The PCIe standard, as mentioned, is robust and constantly progressing while remaining fully backwards compatible. A x1, x2, x4 or x8 card can plug directly into an x16 PCIe slot and will be fully functional at reduced bandwidth. Likewise, Gen. 1 hardware will work in Gen. 2 slots, and going forward, also in Gen. 3 slots. PCI software developed many years ago is fully supported by PCIe. Virtually every modern peripheral device for small computers today are PCIe bus components.” It has been concluded that while there are other ways to achieve decent performance bandwidth, PCIe systems outperform any other approaches – a significant achievement. The original patented PeSAN™ technology is used in the JMR BlueStor PCIe expansion products, available with and without internal RAID storage.
Recently, JMR successfully developed disruptive technology covered by new patents bringing very high-performance, low-cost designs to market. The company’s new strategy for “direct attached storage” and “network attached storage” is expected to become the de-facto standard for small-to-medium and medium-to-large scale deployments over a broad range of IT and video applications. JMR Electronics continues its time-honored commitment to technological advance and superior storage solutions. I urge you to come see them at the upcoming NAB show in Las Vegas, booth SL11517 to check out their complete line of innovative storage solutions for the M&E space!