IBM Throttles Storage I/O With New SAN And LTO6 Tape Drive
October 8, 2012 Alex Woodie
IBM last week unveiled a new Power7-based disk array called the System Storage DS8870 that delivers up to three times the I/O as its previous flagship storage area network (SAN) array. Big Blue’s big fall product launch also brought a new LTO6 tape drive that promises a significant upgrade in backup throughput compared to older LTO5 drives. A new release of the Storwize V7000 midrange SAN management software and a new SmartCloud storage offering round out the storage announcements.
The new DS8870 replaces the DS8800 at the top of IBM’s SAN heap, and while the two arrays look very similar from the outside, the internals have been upgraded substantially.
The biggest enhancement comes from the use of Power7 sockets loaded up with four, eight, or 16 processor cores in the enterprise configurations, and two-core Power7 processors in the new lower cost “business class” configurations. The 16-core configurations (that’s a two-socket Power Systems machine) help boost the throughput of the DS8870 by up to three times compared to the fastest DS8800, which launched two years ago with two dual-core Power6+ processors. IBM says performance of both sequential read and sequential write throughputs in the DS8870 has increased by more than 60 percent over the DS8800.
The DS8870 has already claimed a top performance mark with the SPC-2 benchmark at the Storage Performance Council. The SPC-2 benchmark result tests performance across three types of workloads, including large file processing, large database query, and video on demand, with a 70TB (31TB usable), RAID-5 protected machine that cost just over $2 million. The aggregate of these tests show a performance rating of 15,423.66 MBPS and a price performance of $131.21.
Nearly all of the throughput improvement is due to the faster processor complex (available in one- and two-way configurations), since none of the other components have changed much, with the exception of memory (now up to 1TB, a 266 percent improvement). The number of drives you can fit into the DS8870 Model 961 (the base unit) is still 240. Denser drives, however, boost the total usable capacity from 144TB to 216TB. IBM is using the same 8Gb/sec Fibre Channel/FICON adapters in the DS8870, and you can still connect eight of them.
IBM has expanded the number of expansion units (DS8870 Model 96E) that can connect to the base SAN array; it now supports up to three expansion units, compared to two previously. A fully outfitted, top-of-the-line DS8870 with three expansion units, 16 FC/FICON adapters, and 1TB of memory will provide 1.4PB of physical capacity when using 1,536 of the 10KRPM 900GB SAS drives, or up to 2.3PB when using 768 of the 7,200 RPM 3TB nearline SAS disk drives.
Customers can mix and match drives in the DS8870 to give them the optimal configuration for handling hot, warm, or cold data. In particular, IBM encourages the use of super-fast 400GB SSDs to handle the hottest data. Other drives offered include a pair of 15K RPM SAS drives in 146GB and 300GB configurations, or 600GB 10K RPM SAS drives. All of the drives support RAID-5, RAID 6, and RAID-10, with the exception of the SSDs, which only support RAID-5. The use of fully self-encrypting drives with the DS8870 is also new. All of the drives supported on the new array will self-encrypt, which will boost security, IBM says. Management of the encryption is handled through the Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager software product.
IBM’s new “business class” configuration isn’t as big or fast, and lacks some features, but it’s less expensive and is fully upgradeable to the “enterprise class” configuration. The business class unit delivers up to 129 TB of physical capacity across 144 drives. It is based on a single Power7 processor with two cores activated, has 32GB of memory, 16GB of cache, and offers four FC/FICON adapters. You cannot attach an expansion unit to the business class SAN, and it also lacks the advanced copy services and I/O Priority Manager software that users of the big storage dog can use.
The DS8870, which becomes available on October 19, features a number of optional software components that can be added, including features such as Point-in-Time Copy, FlashCopy, Metro Mirror, Global Mirror, and z/OS Global Mirror functions. There’s also a new Dynamic Volume Expansion function that will boost the size of storage volumes to adapt to increased application storage requirements, without requiring any downtime. It’s supported out-of-the-box with AIX and z/OS servers; IBM says other platforms can also support it with some work. For more information (and a 14-page price guide!) see IBM United States Hardware Announcement 112-154.
New LTO6 Drive
IBM finally shipped its new LTO6 drive, the System Storage TS1060, which it has been readying since July. The new TS1060 can be used in the TS3500 tape library.
IBM’s new LTO6 drive offers a maximum data transfer rate of 160 MB/sec, up from 140 MB/sec with LTO5 gear. Total capacity with the LTO6 media has increased to 2.5TB (native) or 6.25TB with 2:5 to 1 compression. That compares with the LTO5 media, which offered 1.5TB of native capacity, and 3TB with 2 to 1 compression.
The TS1060 is designed to mount in the TS3500 Tape Library Model L53 or D53, and in 3584 Tape Library Models L52, L32, D52, or D32. It works with all servers that can handle Fibre Channel interfaces, including IBM i servers. List price for the TS1060 is $25,855. For more information, see the IBM United States Hardware Announcement 112-162.
Storwize and SmartCloud
Meanwhile, IBM has unveiled a new release of the software powering its Storwize midrange SAN offerings. IBM offers two flavors of the Storwize systems, including the plain vanilla Storwize V7000, which supports block workloads, and the Storwize V7000 Unified, which consolidates block and file workloads into a single system.
The big news with Storwize V7000 Unified version 1.4, which becomes available November 9, is that it allows users of the plain vanilla Storwize V7000 block systems to upgrade to Storwize V7000 Unified systems. This will allow them to consolidate their storage workloads, and take advantage of new functions, like the real-time compression function that IBM has been talking so much about.
IBM is also touting the capability to use implement Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) networks using the Fiber Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol, which allows Storwize V7000 Unified systems to connect to a wide range of other systems, including plain vanilla Storwize V7000s for clustering, or to other servers. Finally, Storwize V7000 Unified can now authenticate against a local server, eliminating the need to connect to corporate directory servers. Find more info at IBM United States Software Announcement 212-369.
No big announcement day is complete without some mention of “the cloud,” and that brings us to IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center V5.1. The SmartCloud VSC, if you haven’t heard of it before, “removes the physicality of storage, as well as the complexity associated with managing multivendor infrastructures,” according to IBM. If you guessed that that means it provides a superset of functionality found in IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, plus the virtualization, remote-mirroring and FlashCopy capabilities of IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and add in all the capabilities of IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager, then give yourself a hand.
The big news with SmartCloud VSC 5.1 is that it supports the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol, which allows it to connect to, and manage, data stored in other arrays, such as the aforementioned Storwize V7000 Unified. It also provides automated discovering and provisioning of file systems stored on Storwize V7000 Unified and the massively scalable, 10GE-attached Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) arrays. Finally, it includes a new GUI and Cognos-based reports. According to IBM United States Software Announcement 212-185, the SmartCloud VSC 5.1 will work with older System i servers, but only if they’re running AIX. Windows, Linux, and Unix systems are also supported.