Broadcast & media

R&S®SpycerNode: when 15 gigabytes per second have to be transferred to a system

Dirk Thometzek, Product Manager at Rohde & Schwarz, played a key role in the development and specification of a media storage system that meets the highest requirements in terms of scalability, workflow integration and flexibility. In an interview, he explained how R&S®SpycerNode works and why the storage system is so unique.

Dirk Thometzek, Product Manager at Rohde & Schwarz im Experteninterview

"No matter what happens, R&S®SpycerNode will always provide data."

Dirk Thometzek, Product Manager at Rohde & Schwarz

Mr. Thometzek, in the media and entertainment segment, storage solutions are in particularly high demand. Why is that?

Nearly all applications in the media sector use storage. The volume of data is immense. Cinema-ready productions involve data rates that your average consumer can hardly imagine. When 15 gigabytes per second have to be transferred to a system, outstanding performance is simply a necessity. On the other hand, applications in media production generate a wide variety of data, and that places different technical demands on the storage. Such applications need seamless workflow integration and user-friendly interfaces.

R&S®SpycerNode was presented for the first time at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) Amsterdam 2018. How was it received?

With R&S®SpycerNode, we have developed a product that strikes a nerve in the industry – for obvious technological reasons. R&S®SpycerNode is very user friendly and features a high performance computing (HPC) file system, advanced erasure coding mechanisms and many other functions.

How is the desired performance achieved?

In addition to the usual IP protocols, R&S®SpycerNode features a native protocol that allows clients to connect centrally to the core storage, i.e. to the hard disks. This allows more performance and, more importantly, parallel performance. In addition, each of the systems has two integrated server nodes. When working with the native protocol, each server delivers performance to the client. When you scale it up, it gets faster and faster and faster. R&S®SpycerNode is fully scalable, even from the smallest unit.

Redundant array of independent disks (RAID) technology combines multiple hard drives into logical units to prevent data loss. What does R&S®SpycerNode do differently?

Conventional RAID solutions set up hard disks redundantly, i.e. data can be recovered using additional calculated information. However, this has the disadvantage that all bits are restored even if the disk is only half full. The erasure coding technology we use is based on a new approach. The parity, i.e. the additional information, is stored separately. In the event of a system failure, only the data that is really needed is restored – and it is restored up to four times faster than with conventional RAID solutions.

What about a single point of failure, i.e. a component that, if it fails, prevents the entire system from operating fully?

There really is no single point of failure. We have incorporated full redundancy all the way down to the smallest unit. There are at least two of every system component: power supplies, fans, etc. And most importantly, there are two servers. It is sort of like a car with two engines. So you really can say: "No matter what happens, R&S®SpycerNode will always provide data."

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