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Controller head transplant

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IBM has updated its high-end DS8000 monolithic storage array with a Power6-processor-based DS87000 model, meaning users will get data faster.

The system has dual 2-way or 4-way processors and uses PCIe bus technology and new adapters. It is a FICON-only product for mainframe connectivity; the older ESCON channel technology has been dropped as FICON is now firmly established.

There can be from two to 32 host adapters, which supply four 4GBit/s Fibre Channel or FICON ports. The disk drive interface is the well-known Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FCAL) and there can from 16 to 1,024 hard drives, and up to 1,024TB capacity, the same as the existing DS8300. The solid state drive (SSD) support is also the same.

Buyers of the DS8700 will get full interoperability with the DS8300's hard drives, drive enclosures, tools, scripts, and copy services.

In fact the DS8700 can be viewed as a DS8300 storage array with a head transplant, one that provides up to 150 per cent more performance. IBM says it is also up to 50 per cent more energy-efficient in IOPS/watt terms than the DS8300.

The more powerful controllers has enabled the use of more expansion frames, the DS8300 offering two with the DS8700 offering five.

IBM also plans plans to deliver smart data placement, a technology that exploits the tiered Solid State Drive (SSD), Fibre Channel and SATA drive storage on the 8700. It "will enhance the DS8700's ability to identify hot data and automatically migrate that data to and from solid-state and Fibre Channel drives,"and also SATA drives.

As with other vendors' automated data movement, the aim is to "optimise data placement across tiers of drives with different price and performance attributes. IBM suggests that "by moving only ten percent of the hottest data from Fibre Channel drives to SSDs, it's expected that clients can see approximately a 300 per cent performance gain for high transaction workloads."

IBM also announced enhancements to its NetApp-sourced N Series line, with new Performance Accelerator Module (PAM II) cards, which are 16 and 32 times larger than the previous version. It says they help improve response time by 30 per cent across all N Series systems, and help to reduce power consumption by up to half compared to hard disk drives.

IBM is introducing new System Storage EXN3000 expansion disks (SAS) for the N Series, which offer 22 per cent better rack space efficiency, as more disks can be stored in fewer shelves. It's also bringing N series SnapManager for Microsoft Hyper-V on board to provide automated data protection and disaster recovery for Microsoft Hyper-V environments.

This DS8700 announcement is a logical refresh of IBM's high-end storage line. There are no major architectural changes but the increased performance of the controllers, through POWER6 processors and PCIe bus use, will be welcomed by IBM's customers who will also welcome the prospect of automated data placement.

The DS8700 begins shipping on Friday. ®

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