The explosive growth of online content and consumers eager to access it has been a boon for content delivery networks (CDN), but has also created significant challenges for platform providers:

· Large groups of users randomize IO patterns that can introduce latency problems and create glitches that frustrate viewers
· Hard drives provide inexpensive storage but accommodate only a handful of simultaneous users
· Issues with ingesting newly uploaded content can degrade performance for viewers

“One of the real challenges faced by CDN platforms is how multiple, simultaneous users accessing the same asset just seconds apart effectively change a normally sequential workload – like watching new movies, music streaming, or the release of new pay-per-view to name a few – into a random workload. That combined with the need to add new content without interrupting viewers is where the Micron 5210 has a real impact on CDN,” said Doug Rollins, Principal Technical Marketing Engineer with Micron.

Optimal storage for Content Distribution Network (CDN) platforms

In an increasingly competitive CDN environment, platform providers need reliable and economical storage capable of managing bursts of asynchronous user traffic while simultaneously accommodating large uploads of fresh content. The Micron 5210 SSD delivers greater capacity and faster throughput using the familiar SATA interface for platform continuity.

The world’s first data center SSD using quad-level cell (QLC) storage, the Micron 5210 provides the optimal solution for streaming and supporting multiple users of CDN platforms.

5210 ion sata

Performance well beyond the limits of hard drives

Until now, most CDNs opted for traditional hard drives because they could purchase high-capacity units fairly inexpensively. But as the number of users and volume of content increases, networks will be forced to choose between making a substantial investment in more hard drives and accept the latency and IO issues that may affect viewer experiences — as well as the inherent limits of how many users can access a drive simultaneously — or look to QLC SSDs as a more efficient solution.

The QLC NAND technology at the heart of the Micron 5210 provides a better random IO profile, radically better latencies, and quality of service about 200 times better than hard drives, all with a remarkably more affordable price. Where the current hard drive model typically allows a maximum of 15 to 20 users per server, replacing those hard drives with QLC SSDs and keeping everything else constant expands that capacity to more than 4,000 users per server. In other words, CDNs can serve 200 times the number of users with no need for additional rack space.

200x better Quality of Service (QoS)

“Compared to the fastest HDDs that are broadly available on today’s market, the Micron 5210 delivers up to 175 times faster performance, 10 times the reliability, and 200 times the QoS (response time consistency). Latencies are five times better and the SSDs are three times as energy-efficient. For CDNs concerned about sustainability, the higher efficiency and need for less rack space offer tremendous advantages,” said Steve Hanna, Senior Product Line Marketing Manager with Micron.

Handles bursting more efficiently

The bursting nature of highly anticipated new programs and pay-per-view events creates strains on CDNs that are dependent upon hard drives, who may be forced to develop oversize resources to accommodate those bursts. The higher performance of QLC SSDs and their inherent flexibility meet the CDN’s short-duration needs without having to build in costly excess capacity.

This level of performance is especially important as CDNs upload and ingest more and more fresh content daily. The Micron 5210 SSD’s reliability, better latencies, and higher write speeds across multiple drives allow networks to ensure their libraries and their burst activities meet subscriber expectations without sacrificing the quality of service.

A simple switch from hard drives

“Upgrading to the additional performance is simple, too, because the Micron 5210 uses a SATA interface. This common, well-understood, standard interface makes the transition to QLC flash storage is as easy as swapping out the existing hard drive for the replacement 5210 SSD. No additional staff or training is needed,” Hanna added. 

Equus Compute Solutions Director of Engineering Dave Fetters had this to say about the Micron 5210 SSDs, “The QLC based Micron 5210 has a specific sweet spot in the edge CDN streaming market segment. While it may be true that QLC has slower writes and less write endurance than its more mainstream TLC counterparts, the fact remains edge video streaming is heavily skewed towards sequential reads. To that end, the 5210 is capable of fully saturating the SATA bus on reads so, in practical terms, it’s not at any real disadvantage when compared to more expensive TLC SATA SSDs. When compared to HDDs, the 2x-3x performance advantage and massively lower latency make the 5210 a no-brainer. “ 

The Micron 5210 is available in capacities of up to 7.68 terabytes. Although that maximum capacity may be seen as a negative in the eyes of some potential users Micron views the product’s role as providing a powerful, reliable, and affordable solution for replacing hard drives, rather than pushing the limits of storage or accommodating all interfaces. For workloads needing capacity beyond 7.68TB, Micron offers a slew of additional SSDs to fit the bill.

Single replacement for more capacity, speed, and reliability

In addition to the read performance and lower latency, the Micron 5210 also presents a significant advantage in terms of power and cooling. In most data centers, power is the gating factor in what, and how much, can be deployed in a rack. At roughly half the power draw (2.8W) of a standard HDD, the power budget will get some much-needed relief.”

For CDNs and the platform providers who are helping them keep up with the pandemic-driven surges leading to the rapid growth of both users and content, the Micron 5210 delivers a simple replacement for the hard drives they’ve been using with significant increases in capacity, speed, and reliability. When the success of a company’s business model rests upon maintaining subscriber satisfaction and offering more exclusive content, choosing not to use QLC SSDs puts CDNs at a considerable disadvantage.

Learn more about how Netflix has incorporated the Micron 5210 into their Open Connect Appliances in our case study.

netflix case study diagram

About Intequus

Intequus offers custom engineering services so you can maximize your CDNs hardware performance while hitting your cost targets. Intequus’s expert engineering, high-quality manufacturing, experienced program management, deployment, and personalized technical support give CDNs the tools they need to be the leaders in their field. Learn more about how Intequus can help you engineer Micron’s 5210’s into a turnkey solution for your CDN infrastructure.

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