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NAB: Some 4K storage offerings

By Tom Coughlin

Digital technology has accelerated the push to higher resolution and higher frame rates. Faster processors, higher data rate networking and larger storage capacities are primary enablers for these developments. This demand brought major infrastructure companies to the NAB show, such as Intel, AMD and Microsoft, but it also brought over 70 companies offering some digital storage technology.

Post production drives significant demand for storage capacity. We will look at the storage offerings of several companies for post work in this article. Let’s start with Avid and their introduction of Avid Everywhere. This is a content sharing and distribution platform leveraging cloud services and offering more flexible software licensing plans. On the storage side,  Avid recently introduced its ISIS 2500 and the company is banking on all the ISIS products to be used for emerging 4K production applications.

Facilis Technology introduced an expanded line of TerraBlock shared storage products to support HD through 4K workflows. The company’s TerraBlock 6.0 includes a software update supporting 8 and 16 Gbps Fibre Channel as well as 1 Gbps and 10 Gig Ethernet connections. The product enables multi-stream RAW camera image playback for Arri, Sony F65 and Red Epic as well as support for less rich images. The product has many attractive features for media pros, including qualification for Adobe Anywhere for video, and the company had attracted a number of industry partners to offer support for TerraBlock for ingest, archive, encoding and asset management applications.

EditShare specializes in storage as well as other equipment and software to support rich media workflows. At the 2014 NAB they unveiled their Field 2 luggable shared-storage solution. This mobile network storage system offering 1 GbE and 10 GbE uses the company’s EditShare storage V.7 platform and supports SSDs. An 8-drive Field 2 with SSDs can support about 50 streams of ProRes 422 or Avid DNxHD 145 or over 140 streams of 25 Mb video. This product combines with the company’s Flow v3.1 media asset management system providing Avid metadata management, individual file restores and instant proxy version as well as proxy editing for the major NLE software.

DSC_0570horizontal rack

JMR’s horizontal Mac Pro Rack.

JMR  Electronics was demonstrating storage systems as well as their version of a horizontal Mac Pro rack mount (its ProBracket line) at the 2014 NAB show, both US-made products. The mounting brackets allow the Mac Pro to be securely installed under a desk, aside a desk pedestal, to a wall, or into a rack cabinet. JMR’s BlueStor network storage system powered by euroNAS OS software is targeted to the multi-client content creation, production and post production markets providing cost effective Ethernet or Fibre Channel shared storage with capacities up to 64 TB and supporting video formats up to 10-bit 4K. Sustained data rates greater than 100 MB/s per disk using 7,200 RPM SATA-3 HDDs. The product supports AFP, NFS, CMB/CIFS and FTP support.

NetApp hosted Tekserve at its booth. The company was demonstrating a complete video workflow solution featuring the new NetApp E-5500 series and the EF550 all-flash array.

E5560 open copysmall

From the NetApp E5500 series, the E5560.

Isilon, part of EMC, hosted MXFserver, a software solution allowing editors to open projects in many editing systems working with high performance storage such as the Isilon scale-out NAS systems.

Dot Hill’s new AssuredSAN 4004 was demonstrated for HD, UHD and 4K video workflows. The product accelerates video streaming and support most post environments. The AssuredSAN Ultra48 storage arrays, with storage capacities up to 58 TB using 2.5-inch HDDs in a 2U footprint and with 16 Gb Fibre Channel host interfaces (iSCSI is also supported), was also featured in exhibits by ATTO Technology, SGO and Digital Film Technology. The product can support SSDs as well as HDDs for faster performance. An 8U configuration of the Ultra48 provides room for up to 192 drives.

EVS provides nearline and archive file-level and block level storage for the media and entertainment industry. At the NAB show the company was highlighting its enhanced ingest for mastering and archiving, with its OpenCubeHD/SD server. This supports MXF standard formats and provides support for most major codecs.

Devil & Demon was demonstrating its lower-cost supercomputer products for rendering and other media applications in partnership with AMD for processors and Micron for fast flash memory.

Also using flash memory as storage was the portable MTI Film all-in-one Cortex dailies solution for mobile media workflows.


Cortex all-in-one system for dailies.

As resolution, frame rates and bit depth increase for video projects, the demands for post are driving higher performance and higher capacity storage needs. This is driving new solutions for every aspect of these workflows using storage media, including flash memory, hard disks and magnetic tape. These trends will continue to unfold over the next few years driving demand for new services, storage devices and systems.

Tom Coughlin, founder of Coughlin Associates,  is a storage analyst and consultant with over 30 years in the data storage industry. Coughlin Associates provides market and technology analysis as well as data storage technical consulting services. In addition to publishing  the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter and the Media and Entertainment Storage Report, Coughlin is founder and organizer of the annual Storage Visions Conference, a partner to the International CES, as well as the Creative Storage Conference.

 Main Photo Caption: Facilis Terrablock 6.0.

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