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Panasas adds solid state to NAS

Parallel clustered NAS vendor Panasas is the latest vendor to put solid state drives (SSDs) in it storage arrays.

Panasas will includes SSD in the highest end of the three ActiveStor Series systems it launched today. Series 7 and Series 8 – with no SSD support – are available today, while Series 9 with SSDs are expected in the second half of the year.

Series 9 will have the highest IOPs and lowest latency of Panasas systems, and is aimed at bringing the vendor beyond its high performance computing (HPC) niche into financial services, media and entertainment and life sciences

Panasas Series 9 tiers consist of DRAM cache, SSD, and SATA drives. “We hate Fibre Channel,” Panasas marketing VP Larry Jones says.

Those three non-FC tiers are placed in “turbo” blades on the Panasas Series 9. Each blade has 40 GB of cache, 36 GB of SSDs and 2 TB of SATA. Each shelf holds 11 blades, and Jones says there is no limit on shelves in a system.

Panasas uses Intel X-25E single-level cell (SLC) SSDs. Jones says no pricing is set yet but he expects the SSDs to have a 40% premium over SATA.

ActiveScale 3.4 software includes automatic tiered storage capability to migrate data to the right tier without requiring customers to set policies. “We put data in the right spot automatically,” Jones says.

The Series 9 scales can generate 120,000 IOPS, according to Panasas.

As with Series 9, the Series 8 model supports 10-Gigabit Ethernet and InfiniBand, and up to 440 GB of cache. The entry level Series 7 is GigE only and maxes out at 50 GB cache. The two higher models also include volume snap shots.

Although SSDs are all the rage in storage now, it’s unlikely that SSD support alone will make Panasas more popular outside of the HPC world. Panasas is also counting on the Parallel NFS protocol (pNFS) to make its systems more accessible to the average NAS shop. pNFS, which will likely replace Panasas’s proprietary DirectFlow protocol, isn’t expected in shipping products until 2010.

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