October 17, 2012

Notes on analytic hardware

I took the opportunity of Teradata’s Aster/Hadoop appliance announcement to catch up with Teradata hardware chief Carson Schmidt. I love talking with Carson, about both general design philosophy and his views on specific hardware component technologies.

From a hardware-requirements standpoint, Carson seems to view Aster and Hadoop as more similar to each other than either is to, say, a Teradata Active Data Warehouse. In particular, for Aster and Hadoop:

The most obvious implication is differences in the choice of parts, and of their ratio. Also, in the new Aster/Hadoop appliance, Carson is content to skate by with RAID 5 rather than RAID 1.

I think Carson’s views about flash memory can be reasonably summarized as:

Notwithstanding the foregoing, Carson seemed open-minded to my conjecture that if MapReduce insists on writing to persistent storage at every step, you might want to have flash cache just for that.

*An AMP is a Teradata unit of parallelism; it’s what executes part of a query plan. Thinking of an AMP as a core is a “useful approximation”.

Carson’s views about networking seem to be at their simplest state in a while:

The greatest fun in talking with Carson comes when he introduces me to concepts or issues I hadn’t heard of before. This time there were two. One was LR-DIMM, where the LR stands for Load Reduced/Reduction, and DIMM stands for Dual In-line Memory Module. The idea of LR-DIMM seems to be that RAM will have an onboard buffer to smooth its communication with the memory bus. This is important because overloaded memory busses crater in performance.

The other is that Carson is shaking his head about different customers’ desires for electric power density. Traditional data centers can’t supply more than 4 kilowatts or so to the area of a standard-sized chassis, so that’s all the power requirement you can put in one. However, enterprises with newer data centers can handle 12 kilowatts or more, and in one case up to 27. And so they want to cram the same computer power into 1/3 or less of the floor space than most enterprises do.


2 Responses to “Notes on analytic hardware”

  1. The Teradata Aster Big Analytics Aster/Hadoop appliance | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on October 17th, 2012 10:32 pm

    […] took the opportunity to chat with Teradata hardware chief Carson Schmidt, in part about the rationale for these design […]

  2. Hadoop/RDBMS integration: Aster SQL-H and Hadapt | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on June 2nd, 2013 5:25 am

    […] and Hadoop clusters are separate, even if they can be run on different nodes in the same appliance. Hadapt’s RDBMS runs on the same nodes as HDFS (Hadoop Distributed File System), or […]

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