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2760 drives, 500GB each, one huge storage array

Storage has become monumental these days, especially with various companies broadcasting companies going online and making TV shows and movies available for IP viewing. Such trends in the industry push storage companies to create and invent new ideas and products that not only drive prices down, but give consumers plentiful choices in storage technologies.

Fujitsu recently launched what it claims to be the world's largest storage array, the ETERNUS 8000 and ETERNUS 4000 storage arrays. Weighing in at 1.36 petabytes, or 1.36 million gigabytes, the ETERNUS file storage arrays push the envelope for enterprise data storage systems. Fujitsu uses 2,760 nearline fibre-channel 500GB disk drives in its flagship ETERNUS server (model 2100) and can be configured with up to 256GB of cache.
  • World's largest storage capacity (over 1 petabyte)
  • World's highest storage performance from up to sixteen 3.6GHz dual processors per system
  • RAID6 (double parity) support. Enhanced reliability even if simultaneous HDD failures occur
  • Disk to Disk backup using Nearline FC disk drives
  • Multi-functional backup options with OPC, QuickOPC & SnapOPC
  • Cost-effective disaster recovery solutions using iSCSI
  • Data encryption for online and offline information security
Fujitsu packs in preventative maintenance features such as tape backup, data encryption, and data automation features into the ETERNUS arrays just in case disaster should strike. Performance wise, Fujitsu says that its servers can be equipped with up to 32 dual-core processors, giving the arrays unmatched throughput. Fujitsu hopes to ship 14,000 units over the next two years.

While Fujitsu claims the largest array available, EMC Corporation launched the first petabyte server that was commercially available back in January of this year.


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RE: i wish...
By peternelson on 4/24/2006 5:44:46 PM , Rating: 4

Yeah, a service like Gmail could use this kind of space.

As for formatting.... well, it could format multiple drives at the same time, so need not take an eternity.

Also, if it is clever like EMC similar product, it uses its own virtual object based filesystem. The storage system tells the computer it has loads of space even if the disks are not physically present. You can then buy the disks later, as and when your computers have filled up most of the real space. The system can extend the actual volume size dynamically as you hotswap more disks. Often the array is shared between multiple hosts (so called "storage consolidation"). eg you could tell your mainframe that it has 75% of the capacity and your unix box that it has 75% of the capacity. Either can merrily just save stuff, and the storage system will decide who gets the underlying actual disks. Assuming only one system actually needs what you said it could have then it saves you buying more disks than needed.

Also note in the description "nearline" that means the disks not being used right now are spun down, and only accessed when required. This is part of something called hierarchical storage management. The most regularly accessed sectors live in the cache, the next most accessed are in powered up disks, then the less accessed stuff can be on the spun down disks to save power. An extension of this is the stuff you want to keep but never gets accessed can be dumped off to tape and recovered if it is ever needed.

By doing all this, it can format the new hard drives as you add them with its own object filesystem format (if it wants to). The storage system could tell the connected computers that the space is already there and formatted even before you install the disk. The management software will prompt you to install more disks to grow the array in response to the usage approaching some threshold.

There is lots of clever stuff to manage all this, and that is why this system is likely to cost well over $1m, and certainly much more than the drive cost alone.


RE: i wish...
By pinzboy on 4/26/2006 9:49:35 AM , Rating: 2
Gmail has no use for this box. Gmail runs on the Google filesystem. Poke Google for URLs. They run commodity boxes in large clusters. No large disk arrays. That's the whole point of Google.

And "nearline" does NOT mean they spin down disks. In this case "nearline" is referring to the FATA disks they use. They have dual-port fibre channel interfaces, but SATA canisters. They cost much more than commodity desktop drives, and provide port failover if one of the interfaces fails, but they're still just 7200RPM ATA quality drives inside.

Go poke NetApp's website for their R100 "nearline" appliance. It doesn't spin down disks either.

Spinning down disks is dangerous, and often leads to data loss. Companies like Copan have spent years working out the issues with spinning down disks, duty cycles, and other issues. This is not a MAID box.

And there's no heirarchical storage management going on here. There's only one tier of storage. Even MAID boxes don't qualify as HSM. The simple fact that they're fronting the array with cache doesn't make it HSM.



RE: i wish...
By peternelson on 4/29/2006 6:23:51 AM , Rating: 2

RAM > CACHE > PRIMARY STORAGE > NEARLINE > TAPE

By definition using nearline is hierarchical.

It is not as expensive or fast as primary but is great as an intermediate place to make tape backups from.

Primary storage may be something like 15K scsi or solid state disk array.

Many people set their disks to spin down. All you need to be aware of is a per-drive limit of (say 40,000) startups.

So its no use spinning down your primary storage.

But you COULD spin down SOME of your nearline storage if what you put on it is infrequently accessed.


RE: i wish...
By peternelson on 4/29/2006 6:32:04 AM , Rating: 2
Using the "MAID" (idle) definition ie standby mode, "MAID" would sit between NEARLINE and TAPE in my > diagram.

However there could be a hybrid nearline box that supports MAID operation on SELECTED disks, the remainder being kept up. Therefore it may spin down a particular or not depending on what is on it and access patterns.

The article does not state whether THIS device offers such a function but I accept nearline does not necessarily imply the device has it.


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