SAN JOSE: Dell warned delegates at its Enterprise Forum this week that the rising use of sensors will put a huge burden on enterprise storage requirements, leading to the firm unveiling plans to move processors in its commodity x86 servers closer to the workload.
Sam Greenblatt, chief architect of Dell's Enterprise Solutions Group, told V3 that as computation becomes more distributed, one way to improve system performance would be to physically locate the processor closer to data.
According to Greenblatt, the need for processors close to data stores is partly due to the volume of data that will be generated by sensors. "The world is going to kill us with sensors. Sensors are going to generate more data than we know what to do with. What is going to hurt us the most is the ability to store that data," he said.
Greenblatt had previously publicly claimed that the Von Neumann architecture, a way of segregating key components of a computer system, is dead. He elaborated to V3, "We'll move the processors closer to where the work is being done, like on storage. What you are going to see is a whole new processing model, one that you haven't seen before and that's why I said the whole Von Neumann model is dead."
However, storing data is only part of the problem, with Greenblatt saying that computation on that data must be distributed, in part deploying a divide and conquer approach to the problem of analytics. "Compute has to be distributed and it has to be parallelised [sic], and today's programs don't allow for parallelism. So we see a whole different generation coming that we want to lead."
Even though Greenblatt said Dell would be moving processors closer to the data, he added that there will be a need to cut down on the amount of data being shifted by transferring results rather than whole datasets where possible. Greenblatt said, "There's going to be a better way to search, and search data for contextual meaning and it may not be [Apache] Hadoop. But what has to happen to be able to to do that, is that you have to put the processor closer to the datasets and then move scale and vectors of results."
Greenblatt's comments strongly suggest that Dell will be beefing up the processing power in future versions of its storage servers. His comments regarding the transfer of results rather than whole datasets also point to the choke point being the network rather than the processing or storage capabilities, meaning enterprises will need to pay greater attention on network infrastructure when upgrading servers and storage to hit desired performance goals.
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