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Promise roars into mid-range with Jasper Forest

A VTrak screamer

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Promise, a tier 2 supplier of RAID arrays, has catapulted itself into the mid-range courtesy of Intel's Jasper Forest processor.

Its Ex30 can do 5.5Gbit/s when reading sequential data, meaning inexpensive entry-level arrays can now hold much more data and be used in the mid-range.

The VTrak Ex30 has active:active dual controllers and supports 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel, 6gig SAS and both 1 and 10gig Ethernet. Fibre Channel in entry-level arrays - and 8 gig FC at that - suggests Promise thinks substantial numbers of non-enterprise customers are going to buy Fibre Channel for SANs and not iSCSI, or enterprises are going to buy the boxes.

Both ideas are counter-intuitive, but VTraks were recently installed at CERN.

The Ex30 parallel's Overland Storage's SnapSAN S1000 array in this use of Fibre Channel and suggests to me that both Overland and Promise hope to get into enterprise SANS. What small or medium company is going to set up a greenfield Fibre Channel SAN these days, when iSCSI is rampaging around?

The Ex30 can have up to 192 6Gbit/s SAS or SATA hard disk drives or solid state drives, making 384TB of raw storage with 2TB drives. That places it in the gap between NetApp's FAS2000 and FAS3200 arrays, being bigger than the former and smaller than the latter. It supports more RAID levels than you can imagine and is Storage Bay Bridge 2.0-compliant.

There is a 24GBit/s interconnect to link the JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) expansion trays to the controllers. The Ex30 has mirrored cache, a claimed no single point of failure, and can be configured in as little as three minutes with six clicks of the management software's choices, according to Promise.

Randy Chan, Promise's VTrak product manager, said the Ex30 "takes us into mid-range environment… it has been architected to fit applications that need a lot of I/O and has phenomenal performance." We expect product managers to be keen about their products but he really is keen about the performance, saying it does 5.5Gbit/s with sequential reads, which compares to the 1.4Gbit/s achieved by its smaller Ex10 product brother. The Ex30 does RAID5 writes at 2.4Gbit/s, with the Ex10 more than three times slower at 700Mbit/s.

The end-to-end disk I/O IOPS number is 440,000 for the Ex30, almost five times faster than the Ex10's 89,000 IOPS. The cache hit IOPS comparison is even more glaring; 610,000 for the Ex30, mote than six times faster than the Ex10's 91,000. These numbers show the benefits of using Intel's Xeon C5500/3500 processors.

With numbers like these and Fibre Channel support, Promise must be thinking that its box can be used in enterprise applications where it will be cheaper and/or faster than a tier one vendor's array.

The EX30 is orderable now but pricing was not revealed; talk to a Promise reseller. ®

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