Dell's Compellent beats Isilon with 85 per cent fewer nodes

Texans snapping at heels of two-year-old kit

Dell has beaten a 56-node Isilon system's file-serving benchmark performance with just eight nodes - and flash file access punch.

The benchmark is the SPECsfs2008 NFS file-serving one and Dell's Compellent system achieved 494,000 IOPS with 8 nodes, each having 12 fast SLC flash drives and 120 slower MLC flash drives; an all-flash system. It used file system technology developed from Dell's Exanet acquisition.

An Isilon s200x with 56 nodes scored 456,223 IOPS with an overall response time of 3.3 msec. That system was equipped with 1,288 x 300GB SAS 10K disk drives and 56 x 200GB SSDs and, at the time (May 2011), Isilon was not part of EMC.

Dell SPEC SFS 2008 chart

Dell Compellent in SPECsfs2008 NFS rankings. Click on chart for larger version.

The benchmarked Dell configuration included a Compellent FS8600 4-appliance cluster; two Compellent Storage Center arrays, each containing a pair of SC8000 controllers, 24 x 400GB SLC SSDs and 120 x 1.6TB eMLC SSDs. FluidFS v2 software was used together with a pre-release version of the Compellent StorageCenter OS v6.4.

When the test system product complete with software is available in the third quarter, Dell expects its list price to be roughly one-third that of the Isilon SPECsfs2008 system.

The Compellent system is a whisker behind an EMC VNX 5700 system, which scored 497,632 IOPS with a overall response time of 0.96 msec. It was fitted with 436 x 200GB SSDs and 21 x 15K SAS disk drives, and was organised as 8 filesystems across 4 VNX block arrays with VG8 file gateways.

Isilon's 56-node system can obviously hold more data than the Compellent one, but Dell can exceed its performance with 85 per cent fewer nodes; 8 instead of 56. This means that if you want that level of SPECsfs2008 performance then a Dell system would occupy far less data centre space, and need much less electricity – and cooling – into the bargain.

It would also probably cost less than the 4-node VNX 5700 file-serving system EMC submitted to the SPEC SFS 2008 benchmark as well.

Dell's result makes El Reg's storage desk ask itself: what would happen if Dell brought out an even larger, more powerful Compellent array? The architecture is clearly powerful. Just how far up the file-serving and block-serving scale can it go? ®

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