HP adds purpose-built all-flash array to 3Par lineup

The StoreServ 7450 is designed to get the full benefit out of flash media

Hewlett-Packard will extend its 3Par enterprise storage line into flash-only territory this week, promising to combine higher speed with familiar software.

The HP 3Par StoreServ 7450 Storage system, being introduced on Tuesday at the HP Discover conference in Las Vegas, was designed from the ground up just for SSDs (solid-state drives). It includes enhancements to 3Par software and the 3Par ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) to better take advantage of the speed of SSDs, according to Craig Nunes, vice president of marketing for storage at HP.

SSDs retrieve data faster than spinning HDDs (hard disk drives) and can improve speed and latency even in storage arrays that have not been built around this type of drive. But systems that were designed for HDDs can become bottlenecks if enterprises fill them with SSDs and expect the full benefit of the faster media, according to Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Mark Peters.

"It's not about supporting it, because anything can support it. It's whether you can make good use of it," Peters said.

The StoreServ 7450 can take full advantage of the faster reading and writing operations of SSDs, according to HP. Internal testing has shown the array can operate at more than 550,000 IOPS (in/out operations per second) with a latency of between 0.4 and 0.7 milliseconds, Nunes said.

The 3Par StoreServ 7000 series is designed to serve medium-sized and large enterprises. The 7000 series systems use the same operating system and management console as all 3Par StoreServ platforms, including the higher end 10000 series. Existing 7000 series arrays already can be filled with SSDs, but the 7450 was designed with those drives in mind. Software enhancements include features for moving data between the platform's cache and its flash drives. The ASIC built into each 3Par controller, which accelerates the functions of the array, has also been enhanced for flash, HP said.

There are other flash-only arrays, including new platforms from startups, that have hardware and software tuned to take advantage of flash drives, said Leah Schoeb, an analyst at Evaluator Group.

"The nice thing HP has done is, they've done it within an existing architecture," Schoeb said. As a result, the 7450 brings along features that have been refined on the 3Par platform over the years, including thin provisioning, data compression, replication and snapshots, she said.

The enhancements HP has made for flash in the 3Par architecture will also be available for all other 3Par systems as soon as the 7450 comes out this month, the company said. Customers will be able to upgrade their systems with the new OS, and newly built 3Par arrays will include the upgraded ASIC.

The StoreServ 7450 can be configured with 100GB and 200GB SSDs with SLC (single-level cell) technology or 400GB SSDs built with MLC (multi-level cell). Its maximum capacity is 240 drives and 96TB of storage. Some customers that require the highest performance will use SLC, but it's likely that most will use MLC because of its lower cost, HP's Nunes said.

The StoreServ 7450 is available immediately, starting at US$99,000.

Also at HP Discover, the company introduced a Android app, called HP StoreFront Mobile Access, that lets administrators monitor storage performance and service levels from smartphones. It includes automatic alerts and event notifications and uses encrypted logins. The free app is available now from the Android app store.

HP also is introducing a Fibre Channel switch that can scale up from 48 to 96 ports. It can be equipped for 4Gbps (bit-per-second), 8Gbps and 16Gbps Fibre Channel. The HP StoreFabric SN6500B B-Series Fibre Channel Switch is available now in four configurations, starting at $73,999.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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