In what is bound to be the first of several such announcements over the next several weeks, Infortrend has introduced the first 4GB Fibre Channel array with a Serial-Attached SCSI back end, complementing the rash of 2.5- and 3.5-inch SAS drives that vendors like Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. have begun shipping in new servers.
The EonStor S12F-R1420 4GB Fibre Channel-to-SAS subsystem offers dual-redundant RAID controllers, dual 4GB Fibre Channels per controller and DDR266 cache memory. It also achieves throughput of more than 1,000MB per second and offers 12 dedicated point-to-point drive channels.
The SAS RAID system improves on the reliability and redundancy of SATA-based systems due to its RAID6 hardware engine, said Alan Johnson, director of product application engineering at Infortrend, of Santa Clara, Calif.
“Today, you can get disk drives in 500GB capacities, so if you ever get degraded in a single drive, it would take a long time to rebuild that, and that leaves you vulnerable,” he said. “With RAID6 you have the ability to tolerate drive failures, and if one drive fails, you can still recover.”
The movement toward SAS RAID systems is particularly good news for the midrange market—particularly for those that need performance and capacity for applications with tiered storage needs, said Greg Schulz, a senior analyst at Evaluator Group of Greenwood Village, Colo.
“The introduction of a common SAS back-end provides robust performance for Fibre Channel-attached storage, and using SATA disk drives in a co-existence mode enables SATA capacity storage to exist,” said Schulz.
In addition to moving the company forward by introducing a SAS-based RAID system, Johnson said Infortrend also was motivated to fine-tune the performance of its RAID subsystem to better address specific vertical markets, such as the audio/visual market, security vendors, and organizations with mission-critical applications, such as the financial world.
“Weve done certain things that play very well in certain vertical markets. In the A/V market, for example, where A/V applications demand streaming performance, we can do that. And while most offer good bandwidth, weve gone a step farther and added features to the firmware so if any of the devices encounter problems like bad blocks or degradation, we have schemes in our firmware where all of that is masked away from the video servers and it will continue to receive data without interruption.”
Although Infortrend contends that it is the first with an SAS RAID product on the market, Hewlett-Packard might qualify with its MSA50 SAS array, although the latter is more of a JBOD array, Schulz said.
“We might be splitting hairs, but in general SAS RAID is a good idea. It leverages SAS on the back end, which should provide a better clock point than using the Fibre Channel Drive, and it allows them to plug SATA drives into that back end,” he said.
To address the JBOD issue, Infortrend introduced the EonStor S12S-J1000, a SAS-to-SAS JBOD with redundant SAS expander boards. So while the EonStor S12F-R1420 offers Fibre in and SAS out, the JBOD offers SAS in and SAS out.
“Think of it as the top unit being a Fibre Channel-to-SAS enclosure with 12 SA or SATA disk drives, and then connected below that if you need more expansion, you can add a number of SAS JBOD enclosures with SAS as their input and output to connect to additional units,” Johnson said.
Now that Infortrend has introduced an SAS RAID product, the company plans to forge ahead with products in the storage management arena. In addition, the company is trying to augment its channel strategy with a move into the OEM space, Johnson said.