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High density RAID takes on a whole new definition

Unknown to few outside of the high-density storage industry, 2.5" drives began to overtake several enterprise markets almost overnight with the advent of perpendicular recording.  The high densities, low costs and low power requirements for 2.5" drives make the drives perfect for corporate environments where reliability and density are the focus.

At Computex Taipei, DailyTech got a nice shot of a standard PC tower with fifty Fujitsu 200GB 2.5" drives in a RAID configuration.  The total storage of the array is 10TB, but 2TB are lost to parity for the array. The MHV2200BT hard drives featured in the array, announced by Fujitsu in March of this year, use SATA 1.5Gbps and a mere 4200RPM rotation speed.  Each drive has a peak power usage of 1.6W during a read/write operation, giving the whole array a peak power usage of just 80W.

Furthermore, each drive can be hot swapped in the event of a failure, and Fujitsu representatives had no problem removing drives during the live demonstration.  Fujitsu employees had no estimate on price of such a setup, but the MHV2200BT hard drives are expected to ship this summer.

Earlier this year, Fujitsu employees gave DailyTech the scoop on the migration of the enterprise market from 3.5" drives to 2.5",  and the company is already forcasting 1.8" drives to start packing a punch in the high density market.   Fujitsu already holds the world commercial storage record of 1.3PB.

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By Quiksel on 6/11/2006 10:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
THIS, my friends, is what I call BADASS.

very unique idea, and one that could actually get some exposure. only thing I truly wonder about is the failure of a drive (or multiple) in such a big array... The more parts a system has, the more propensity for failure (and the harder to isolate the fault). But man, what an idea!

RE: sweet
By Ecmaster76 on 6/11/2006 10:53:48 PM , Rating: 2
Failure would be precisely detected the moment it happened. Any storage controller worth manufacturing has the capability.

As mentioned, 20% of the array is dedicated to parity data. I imagine if a drive fails, you just pop in a blank and the system will restore itself in a few minutes, prrobably without any interruption in data access. A more catastrophic failure, such as a power surge post DC stepdown would be a problem, but that is why engineers use fuses and similiar devices. And IT pros use backups.

RE: sweet
By BZDTemp on 6/12/2006 7:40:01 AM , Rating: 2
You're exactly right. HP shot, as in with a rifle, one of their storage servers to make that exact point.

RE: sweet
By KenGoding on 6/12/2006 2:37:10 PM , Rating: 2
That movie is cool, but I notice they were very careful about where they shot it.

RE: sweet
By masher2 on 6/12/2006 2:10:07 PM , Rating: 3
> "I imagine if a drive fails, you just pop in a blank and the system will restore itself in a few minutes"

You won't rebuild a 200GB drive in "a few minutes", no matter how capable a controller you have. It takes time to rebuild an array after a failure...which is why RAID is a solution for ensuring uptime, not a replacement for backups. A second drive failure during the rebuilding process means the loss of the array, and all data within it.

Still, that's a small window, and a very low risk. Heat concerns aside from the high disk density, I don't expect this solution to be any less reliable than a standard Raid array.

RE: sweet
By TomZ on 6/12/2006 9:06:03 AM , Rating: 1
I'm not sure that I really agree that this idea is really unique. Lots of companies offer high-capacity RAID storage for enterprise environments. RAID is as old as the hills, and other vendors are also transitioning to 2.5" drives for power savings and to increase density.

RE: sweet
By vingamm on 6/12/2006 1:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
Oh Yeah!!! I am drooling over here. I think my geekiness is about to show. DAMN That is a concept. 10TB expending on 80W in a standard case. Oooooooo!!! The posibilities!!

4200 RPM
By fenderkb76 on 6/11/2006 10:26:44 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't read up that much on perpindicular storage besides knowing that it arranges the magnetic poles in a different direction from standard storage for higher density. Does this allow the hard drives to get by with slower rotation speeds to acheive the same performance? Can a 4200 RPM perpindicular drive keep up with a standard 7200 RPM SATA or 10,000 RPM Raptor, or a 15,000 RPM SCSI? I know RAID will speed it up, but you're still going to loose some speed in the overhead, won't you?

RE: 4200 RPM
By Hypernova on 6/11/2006 11:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
In theory a drive half as fast but twice as dense is the same as one that is half as dense and twice as fast.

Think about it. the spindle covers the same amount of bits in the same time period.

RE: 4200 RPM
By Stele on 6/11/2006 11:53:36 PM , Rating: 2
That's true. Not only that, the RAID array makes up for some of the performance deficiencies a slower spindle speed might cause. Furthermore, this amount of storage and the use of 2.5" HDDs suggest that this storage tower would mainly be targetted at the nearline market, where large capacity and reliability are more important that blinding access speeds (since they won't be accessed as heavily as frontline storage).

RE: 4200 RPM
By the1physicist on 6/12/2006 1:21:19 AM , Rating: 2
A drive that spins half as fast would need 4 times the data density for the same transfer rate.

RE: 4200 RPM
By masher2 on 6/12/2006 2:12:58 PM , Rating: 3
That's *not* true. Doubling the data density doubles the areal bit rate, true...but it has no effect on latency.

If you double the density of a disk but have its rotational speed, you wind up with a drive with the same transfer rate, but twice the mean rotational seek latency. Meaning a slower drive...especially for desktop usage.

Really nice
By electriple9 on 6/11/2006 10:33:37 PM , Rating: 2
Whats the average power usage of the regular hard drives. With 50 drivers in raid5, 4200rpm wont matter anymore, the transfer speed will be pretty high due to the raid.

RE: Really nice
By masher2 on 6/12/2006 2:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
> "With 50 drivers in raid5, 4200rpm wont matter anymore, the transfer speed will be pretty high"

Since 20% of the array is lost to parity, that means the tower is configured as ten 5-disk wide arrays. And that in turn means the transfer rate is only 4X higher than a standard 4200rpm notebook drive...and the mean seak time is actually much slower. From a sheer performance perspective, your average 7200rpm desktop drive would easily outperform this setup.

RE: Really nice
By Slaimus on 6/12/2006 6:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
RAID-5 does not do any striping, so it would be very slow. You need RAID-10 to improve performance.

RE: Really nice
By masher2 on 6/12/2006 7:00:02 PM , Rating: 4
Um, Raid 5 most assuredly does do striping. It is nothing but a striped array with parity information added. Also, Raid-5 is generally going to outperform a single disk (and possibly even Raid-10) on read speeds, even if it is a sluggard on writes.

Wow, have we advanced
By Aquila76 on 6/12/2006 5:21:15 PM , Rating: 2
2TB lost to parity, and nobody bats an eyelash.

I remember when I had to get a 120MB HDD to get 100MB of actual storage. Wasn't all that long ago (to me anyway). Wow. I feel old now.

RE: Wow, have we advanced
By masher2 on 6/12/2006 5:27:18 PM , Rating: 3
When you remember 8" floppies, storing programs on casette tapes, and editorials claiming that 64 Kbytes (not MBytes or GB) of RAM was all computers would ever need....then you can feel old :)

RE: Wow, have we advanced
By Clauzii on 6/12/2006 6:33:40 PM , Rating: 2
Actually it was Bill himself saying that 640KB would be enough for a PC :)

RE: Wow, have we advanced
By masher2 on 6/12/2006 6:48:03 PM , Rating: 3
No, I'm talking about an editorial in DDJ that was actually *angry* in tone over PCs with 64K (not 640K) RAM. The statement was made that all possible programs could be written smaller than that, so that more memory would just encourage "code bloat".

I don't recall the author...but I wonder what he'd think of some of today's programs.

custom cooling
By xsilver on 6/12/2006 12:04:55 AM , Rating: 2
by using all the front bays there are no front fans blowing on the hdd's??

probably just have a custom cooling device behind the array; 2x120mm fans should do it?

couldnt you also arrange to use 3.5" drives in a 5.25 bay by placing the drives vertically; eg. 4 3.5" drives vertically takes 2 5.25 bays?

using the 750gb drives, wouldnt you get a better performance/reliability setup?

RE: custom cooling
By TomZ on 6/12/2006 9:02:45 AM , Rating: 2
The article states 80W maximum power consumption for the whole array. With that low of power density, it is possible that they could get away with having no fans at all.

RE: custom cooling
By Hypernova on 6/12/2006 9:44:18 AM , Rating: 2
Ditto. from my experience no 2.5@ drive needs fans, they simply don't get that hot.

omg thats a big server
By hoohoo51 on 6/12/2006 4:17:04 AM , Rating: 2
did anyone notice thats just a CM stacker ? i really really want to slap a window on the side and put it on my desk.

RE: omg thats a big server
By hoohoo51 on 6/12/2006 4:32:18 AM , Rating: 2
also if someone could tell me who makes those bays and where to get one i would be a happy man

RE: omg thats a big server
By Athlex on 6/12/2006 1:28:24 PM , Rating: 2
Read my post directly above yours- Fujitsu used Rancho MiniSTOR 3R enclosures.

By Hypernova on 6/11/2006 10:26:42 PM , Rating: 2
Hm... thats a lot of porn!

RE: 8TB...
By GNStudios on 6/12/2006 2:44:40 AM , Rating: 2
i think it's for corporate use. but hey, now I know what you´re doing on your job. :-)

At last!
By Ralph The Magician on 6/12/2006 12:32:58 AM , Rating: 2
Finally I can just download an entire torrent.... site .

RE: At last!
By marvdmartian on 6/12/2006 9:32:37 AM , Rating: 2
Or sign up for, and take full advantage, of that annual rapidshare premium account!! ;)

how much?
By covertbit on 6/13/2006 12:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
Any idea how much those MiniSTOR enclosures go for?

RE: how much?
By Athlex on 6/13/2006 10:11:06 PM , Rating: 2
Not cheap. Rancho SysTech doesn't seem to do a lot of direct sales but you could hit up Froogle lists a Ministor 2 for $240 at one vendor.

Supermicro also has a 2x5.25" CSE-M28E1 which holds 8 SATA/SAS drives. More vendors carry the Supermicro, but it costs $280-350+ (!)

Coming from the Storage Industry
By illuvatar81 on 6/12/2006 9:22:02 AM , Rating: 1
I've got to say thats pretty lame.

I work with this stuff day in and dy out. HD arrays for storage are all over the place.

I just got through installing a Quantum DX storage array with 13Tera and two Centerra Clusters with 13 Tera each Mirrored over SAN. Thats some cool stuff, a sill tower with a bunch of drives in it is like a DAE from EMC from late 90's. OLD and BORING.

RE: Coming from the Storage Industry
By Lonyo on 6/12/2006 2:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
Did they have 8TB in a regular desktop size case and consume a maximum of 80W?

Guts of the system?
By Athlex on 6/12/2006 3:56:32 AM , Rating: 2
Is there any information on how this box is actually configured? It looks like Fujitsu just slapped 10 Rancho MiniSTOR 3R cages in a Coolermaster Stacker. If they wanted to, they could use MiniSTOR 2 cages and get 60 drives in that case!

Each MiniSTOR 3R does its own RAID 0/1/10/JBOD independently and funnels the 5 drives into a single SATA port. Then I guess all the cages are connected in a RAID5. Yikes, time for SAS.

Its the... CM Stacker!
By Xavian on 6/12/2006 3:07:33 PM , Rating: 2
its the CM stacker (the older type) case, i have one of those, awesomely large and powerful cases :)

I dont have a 50 HDD RAID in it though!

Why I bought my CMStacker
By CZroe on 6/12/2006 3:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
I bought this case to house my RAID5 array. I threw in two 6-channel Promise SuperTrak SX6000 RAID cards and 256MB of cache memory. I got 10 Western Digital 1200JB drives for ~$20 each but I started transitioning to 400GB drive until the Hitachi 7k400 drives started to become a bad deal. It takes three Cooler Master 4-in-1 drive bay adapters and one 3.5"-2.5" adapter to do this. There are 5-in-1 bays available, but not from Cooler Master and I'm sure the drives get hot in one of those. These Fujitsu drives are tiny and using non-standard drive bay adapter, but I'm not surprised to see them in there.

Aeroglass, anyone?
By shecknoscopy on 6/11/06, Rating: 0
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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