Feeds

Pillar's Axiom 600 gets multicore brain transplant

50 per cent performance boost isn't rocket science

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Pillar Data has increased the performance of its Axiom 600 array and laid the foundation for future systems, with a doubled core count in its Slammer controllers and 700,000 lines of new Axiom ONE software code.

The Axiom 600 is Pillar's high-end enterprise-level array, with iSCSI and Fibre Channel block storage and also network-attached storage (NAS) via controller configuration options. It has the ability to provide different qualities of storage service to specific applications and up to 80 per cent storage utilisation.

The company is a start-up backed by Oracle boss Larry Ellison, and has shipped some 1,300 Axiom systems. Most of these are Axiom 600s, followed by its predecessor, the Axiom 500, and then the entry-level Axiom 300 which comprises about 15 per cent of total shipments.

An Axiom array is composed of three hardware elements: the Pilot policy controller is the management interface; Slammers are the data movers and array controllers; and Bricks are the individual storage controllers, each with 13 drives (12 plus hot spare) and its own embedded pair of RAID controllers.

With the second generation or series 2 Slammers, Pillar has moved from dual-core to quad-core Opteron processors and doubled the Axiom 600's total cache from 96GB to 192GB, with each Slammer having 48GB. Pillar CEO and president Mike Workman said: "We have one hundred times the total cache memory Compellent has."

The backend fabric has doubled its speed from 2Gbit/s to 4Gbit/s. Conscious that EMC CLARiiONs have had 4Gbit/s for some time, Workman said: "We have four times the number of ports, though, and beat them in benchmarks at 2Gbit/sec."

The result is a 50 per cent increase in IOPS (500,000 were mentioned), a 30 per cent improvement in backend performance and support for twice as many VLUNs (virtual LUNs)

The backend storage Bricks can now use slightly faster 2TB drives. Pillar announced support for Western Digita's 5400rpm 2TB drives last August, the first in the industry, and is now adding Hitachi GST 7200rpm 2TB drives to the mix. Hitachi GST is a mainstay HDD supplier for Pillar.

With all this extra controller hardware performance and back-end fabric bandwidth increase, the way would be open for Pillar to announce an even higher-capacity Axiom, perhaps a 700 with a 3PB-plus capacity. Instead, Pillar has decided to use the hardware boost as an internal upgrade to the 600. Existing 600 users will be able to retrofit the new Slammers to their existing 600s, alongside the current Slammers, and so provide a new way to differentiate quality of service by routing I/O through the series 2 Slammers.

Pillar could also have chosen to increase the NAS functionality. Currently an Axiom 600 can provide an 8-way active controller NAS capability with a global namespace. With the new hardware, four times more CIFS connections are supported, but there has been no change in the overall NAS configuration maximums.

We get the feeling that much more is to come, especially when Pillar says that there are 700,000 extra lines of code in its Axiom ONE v4.0 software, compared to the previous 3.0 product. You don't need that much extra code just to accommodate new hardware in the Slammers.

The new software is backwards-compatible and will run in the Axiom 500 product. This indicates that whatever new software features are coming, existing Axiom 600 and 500 customers should be able to take advantage of them to some degree. Workman says that, overall, there will be big developments in Pillar's products. These will come as a sequence of announcements in 2010, rather than as one big massive change, as the commpany builds on the Axiom ONE 4.0 software foundation and second generation Slammer hardware.

We expect Pillar to announce automated tiering of data at the sub-LUN level across different storage tiers, from SSD to SATA drives, with two other ways to control data movement. One will be by policy (scheduled) and another by sysadmin command (signalled), as suggested in a Mike Workman blog.

There is no price rise for Axiom 600 series 2 users. Indeed, there may well be a 15 - 20 per cent price reduction for the series 1 600. The first new 600 series 2 systems, 400 - 500TB ones, were shipped in December to European customers. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
It's Big, it's Blue... it's simply FABLESS! IBM's chip-free future
Or why the reversal of globalisation ain't gonna 'appen
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
CAGE MATCH: Microsoft, Dell open co-located bit barns in Oz
Whole new species of XaaS spawning in the antipodes
Microsoft and Dell’s cloud in a box: Instant Azure for the data centre
A less painful way to run Microsoft’s private cloud
AWS pulls desktop-as-a-service from the PC
Support for PCoIP protocol means zero clients can run cloudy desktops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.