Rackable Upgrades Its Eco-Friendly Storage Systems

Energy-aware systems at about $1,000 per terabyte of capacity.

SAN FRANCISCO—Rackable Systems, which makes high-density storage servers with basic software features for large-scale data centers, Aug. 7 launched a new generation of high-performance clustered storage appliances.

Rackables new Eco-Logical storage products feature high-efficiency, low-power consumption and intelligent design intended to improve price performance per watt, in even very complex computing environments, Geoffrey Noer, Rackables senior director of product management, told eWEEK.

"Were offering these new, energy-aware systems at about $1,000 per terabyte of capacity, as it scales out—far less than our competitors," Noer said. "These new systems are designed for high-end computing—databases, video production, high-level Internet transactions, scientific computations, and the like; theres very low latency in the I/O."

The Fremont, Calif.-based, company, which sold Google its first 10,000 servers in 1999, builds servers that can be clustered to run on Linux to produce storage capacity as high as 273TB per cabinet, a company spokesperson told eWEEK.

Rackables RapidScale SA2150 appliance uses the companys patented DC Power technology to chart significant power savings in any AC- or DC-based data center, Noer said, while providing performance of up to tens of gigabytes per second of I/O throughput.

"The new RapidScales introduce a bunch of new features, including small file and random IOPS performance, improved HA failover and heterogeneous network support," Noer said.

The RapidScale appliance is designed and built in Rackable Systems half-depth form factor to enable back-to-back mounting for highest density and cooling ability, Noer said.


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Rackable prides itself on the unique architecture of its storage servers and has actually been at the forefront of the ecologically aware IT trend.

"Because we have all the I/O cables in front [of each unit], and because the airflow is redirected out a chimney on top, servicing is much easier and the cooling better utilized," marketing director David Yu said. "All the drives are also accessible from the front."

Traditionally, AC (alternate current) comes into the data center from an outside power source. Once inside the facility, it goes through multiple conversions back and forth with DC (direct current) before finally reaching the servers, which run on DC.

However, at those conversion points, electricity is lost and heat is generated, persuading some users to look at an all-DC network as a way of increasing efficiency and saving money.

The new units use DC power, Yu said. Proponents say that DC power produces 20 to 40 percent less heat and improves server reliability by 27 percent.

The new RapidScale incorporates the v2.2 operating system and provides key upgrades, including performance yields that equal twice the metadata performance over previous versions; scalability to hundreds of GB/sec of throughput and hundreds of petabytes of capacity over previous versions; and efficiency, in that it delivers 90 percent-plus of raw disk performance to the client application, Noer said.

Rackables new OmniStor SE3016 expansion system, also launched Aug. 7, provides a scalable, power-friendly way to add external storage to Rackable Systems servers, Noer said. The new OmniStor SE3016 supports up to 16 SAS or SATA II drives per system with 1.2 GB/second of bandwidth between the server and the storage device.

Mounted back-to-back in a Rackable Systems cabinet, two OmniStor SE3016 systems achieve storage density of 32 drives per 3U of rack space—with up to 416 terabytes per cabinet, Noer said.

"Storage only accounts for about 10 percent of Rackables revenues, but the company is looking to use storage to boost up its margins," analyst Henry Baltazar of The 451 Group in San Francisco told eWEEK. The RapidScale product is a competitor in the cluster storage space, but they only have about 20 customers at this point.

"The OmniStor takes advantage of Rackables space efficent back-to-back architecture and can also use their DC power options," Baltazar said. "Considering that this product is just a JBOD, its not particularly interesting from a technology point of view.

"RapidScale has a fairly unique architecture which blends together an iSCSI network RAID with a global name space. Their ability to failover using different networking technologies such as Infiniband, Gigabit Ethernet and 10GigE, is useful."

Cluster storage technologies are mostly deployed in HPC and vertical markets today, which are difficult to sell to and need to be tailored for specific environments, Baltazar said.

"All of the vendors in the space are trying to move these technologies into the enterprise space, which should open up opportunities for vendors such as CFS and Rackable Systems. With enterprise customers seeking scalability, these technologies will move down from the HPC space," Baltazar said.

Both RapidScale and OmniStor SE3016 are available now.


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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...