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Flash News: Tegile, Nimble, Fusion-io and 3PAR

Flash News: Tegile, Nimble, Fusion-io and 3PAR

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Another week goes by and more news on flash storage arrives in my inbox.  This week we’re talking about Tegile Systems Inc, Nimble Storage Inc, Fusion-io and HP’s 3PAR line of arrays.

Tegile Launch Intelliflash

If you’re not doing things intelligently with flash, you’re not doing it right, as we will see from these announcements.  First there’s the launch of a new all-flash array from Tegile, who founded in 2010, released their first products to market in 2012.  The T3800 is a 2U system based on the Intel E5-2450 processor and uses high-density flash drives to achieve a minimum raw capacity of 48TB.  The maximum array capacity is quoted as 1.68PB, using a 5:1 data reduction rate (dedupe, compression etc) which is based on 336TB raw capacity through additional two 4U expansion shelves.  Based on using 2TB flash drives, these shelves pack 96 drives each for one of the largest array capacities in the industry.

Moving past the speeds and feeds for a moment, probably the more interesting news in this release is the price point Tegile has achieved.  Their effective $/GB price is quoted as $1.1/GB – remember “effective” means after data reduction so that’s a raw $5.5/GB, which is extremely competitive.  Bear in mind that the Intelliflash range (the name Zebi seems to have been dropped) is a hybrid device with support for block (iSCSI & Fibre Channel) and file (NFS, SMB3) then what we have is a system that isn’t targeted at the all-flash market but at taking out the tier 1 competition based on 15K FC drives.  Layer in the new T3400 and you start to see how things have become harder for the likes of EMC and NetApp with their legacy mid-range platforms.

Nimble Launch CS700

Yesterday Nimble held a huge launch party for their new CS700 system which has uprated performance (2.5x claim over the predecessor CS400 series) and now supports an all-flash shelf option with a claimed maximum capacity of over 1PB in a 4-node cluster.  Nimble’s calculations are more opaque than some other vendors with their raw to effective savings coming in at 2.5X, although the footnotes on their datasheet indicate only up to 2x savings on space reduction technologies.  The release of the CS700 brings in some great new buzzwords including “proactive wellness” and of course “adaptive flash” technology.  More work is needed to determine whether this is marketing hype or a genuine evolution of the platform.

Fusion-io Atomic Series

The latest flash news isn’t all array-based; Fusion-io have recently launched the next generation of their PCIe SSD range of devices, branded Atomic.  The product range is divided into the PX600 series for performance and the SX300 series for scale out solutions.  Comparing to previous generations of products, latency figures seem to have taken a step backwards.  Some previous ioDrive II models had read/write latencies of 68us and 15us respectively, whereas the new Atomic models are all quoted at 92us and 19us.  Admittedly capacities are higher, so perhaps a more detailed analysis of the statistics is required.  In any event, the key benefit is how application software can best utilise the local flash and that’s not something a data sheet will ever show.

HP 3PAR 7450 with De-duplication

This week HP have been holding their annual conference in Las Vegas.  At HP Discover, the HP Storage team announced an upgrade to the 3PAR StoreServ OS that enables primary storage de-duplication (a feature called Thin Deduplication).  Initially the technology will only support flash storage in the all-flash 7450 model.  If you look around the industry, de-duplication in flash arrays is pretty much table stakes and most vendors will quote “effective” capacities after their space reduction technologies have been applied.  This is done to make the $/GB ratio look good as customers still care about the bottom line cost of capacity.  It’s easy to think that the Thin Deduplication feature is simply an add-on to an existing array and so won’t be fully integrated into the architecture.  In fact that’s not the case, as the 3PAR architecture is well suited to dedupe, however spinning disks are not and so we are seeing this feature implemented now because of the opportunity to use it with flash.

 The Architect’s View

Within a few years, flash arrays have moved from niche to mainstream.  If you’re not offering a full set of features, you will be left behind.  Today, flash isn’t all about blistering performance, it’s about making existing workloads go faster.  That’s why the high-end monolithic arrays are losing market share.  There’s some good stuff in these announcements, however some of the details need to be worked through to pick out the true value.

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Copyright (c) 2009-2014 – Chris M Evans, first published on http://blog.architecting.it, do not reproduce without permission.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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