New PowerMax Architecture Adds NVIDIA BlueField DPU Technology


This blog was co-authored by Jeff Schneider, Senior Consultant, Product Management

The latest generation of PowerMax 2500/8500 models are the first mission-critical storage systems to integrate the NVIDIA BlueField DPU (data processing unit) technology into the architecture.  This milestone is a testament to the long-standing relationship between Dell Technologies and NVIDIA.  Let us explain.

Many leading businesses and organizations around the world rely on mission-critical, enterprise storage arrays to provide super-high availability and predictable high performance.  Medical databases, financial transactions, airline operations systems, energy system controllers – pick your favorite example.  Some things just have to work, reliably, all of the time!  The businesses’ success depends on it.  In some cases, people’s lives depend on it.  It takes focused attention to the system architecture design to achieve this.  Performance matters, scalability matters, resiliency matters, power and space efficiency matters, and cost of ownership matters. This mantra and a deep obsession with performance, scalability, reliability, and efficiency is the reason why Dell’s PowerMax is the leader in this space today.

The Dell PowerMax platform is built on decades of experience and innovation.  The integrity and constant availability requirement of customer data, with predictable high performance, and security built in from the ground up are key factors in the design of the system architecture.  Add to that the ability to expand capacity and compute power in a flexible and cost-effective way to meet customers’ changing needs.  The PowerMax system architecture and PowerMaxOS 10 software platform provide a unique balance of building on a robust, mature base while incorporating new innovative features and the latest available technology across the industry. This is where our work with NVIDIA BlueField DPU technology comes into play.

“For Salesforce, trust is our number one value, and PowerMax has been a key part of that in terms of availability, reliability, and performance.” – Pete Robinson, Director of Infrastructure Engineering, @Salesforce

Our collaboration with NVIDIA on optimizing storage SANs has spanned several years leading up to our integration of NVIDIA BlueField DPU technology into the PowerMax architecture — specifically, into the dynamic media enclosures (DMEs) developed for PowerMax. 

The new DMEs are not just another conventional drive enclosure.  These are “smart,” fabric-attached units that each house up to 48 NVMe SSDs.  The enclosures have dual LCCs (link controller cards) for high availability.  Each LCC includes a BlueField DPU, a multicore system on a chip (SoC) from NVIDIA.  The core of the PowerMax architecture is built around NVMe-over-Fabrics with NVIDIA Quantum InfiniBand as the transport layer.  The BlueField DPUs are key to making this possible.

The benefits of this architecture are…

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