IBM's Almaden Research Centre is considering spinning off its IceCube storage technology which uses intelligent storage building blocks, and should serve application including video storage and replay, according to reports.

IceCube, which federates inexpensive storage devices - bricks - together over a network, was known demonstrated in 2003 as the Collective Intelligent Bricks (CIB) project.

Instead of a SAN with myriad parts that a sysadmin has to worry about, CIB has bricks in a 3D structure, which communicate wirelessly at 1 Gbit/s. IBM's idea is that an IceCube has extra capacity and if components fail they are just left in place. No physical sysadmin attention is required for many months.

The design principle is to distribute functions so that no component failure is fatal; the systems keeps on operating at full or near full performance.

A single 3 x 3 IceCube could hold 32 Tbyte, possibly more, of data - it depends upon the disk capacities. Its green crdentials would be helped by using water-cooling to reduce the cooling energy drain.

HP has similar technology called a federated array of bricks (FAB). This is a logical disk system providing enterprise-level reliability and performance far more cheaply than current enterprise-class disk arrays - Symmetrix, etc. - and with better scalability.

A FAB is built using bricks, small rack-mounted storage appliances built from commodity components including disks, CPU, NVRAM, and network cards. Bricks federate themselves in a decentralised way to provide users with a set of logical volumes. Reliability comes from storing the same disk block on multiple bricks, via replication, and creating redundant paths between system components. Performance scaling is achieved through distributing functionality across the available brick set. The HP researchers envisage a fully populated FAB with 5000 bricks containing up to 2 petabyte of data.

The proposed IBM company is expected to be called Seval Systems and be based in Palo Alto. Its acting CEO and formal CTO would be Winfried Wilcke, currently a program director at Almaden.