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HP tailors CPU, memory for all-flash 3PAR StoreServ 7450

HP's 3PAR platform has a spinning disk legacy, but the StoreServ 7450 was modified with a different CPU and memory to support flash.

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s 3PAR StoreServ 7450 uses the same core architecture as the entire StoreServ family of products, but the company makes a case that the array was designed strictly for flash.

Priyadarshi Prasad, a senior product manager for HP 3PAR, said the 7450 has the same SAS interconnects and enclosure "plumbing" as the disk-based StoreServ products, but the product uses different CPU and memory to hit performance numbers of 900,000 random read IOPS and latency of less than 0.7 milliseconds with a quad-controller system.

Also helping to boost performance is the StoreServ 7450's flash-optimized software layer that incorporates HP's Adaptive technologies for read, write, I/O processing, cache and other functions, according to Prasad. The benefits of the flash-focused Adaptive technologies extend to the other StoreServ arrays, he added.

"Obviously HP is working very much towards its whole converged infrastructure," using the same operating platform and user interface across its 3PAR platforms, said Mark Peters, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group Inc.

"The interesting aspect is how they can potentially integrate with the rest of the 3PAR lineup," said Henry Baltazar, a senior analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "They are doing some interesting things with federation capabilities to move data across these systems. That could be interesting for people that are trying to optimize workloads and make sure that, when workloads are cold, they're not consuming a lot of flash."

HP's peer-to-peer federation allows users to nondisruptively move applications from the StoreServ 7450 all-flash array to spinning media and vice versa, according to Prasad.

Prasad also highlighted the 3PAR StoreServ 7450's advanced capabilities such as three-data-center replication, automatic failover of a front-end controller node port that experiences laser loss (helpful if a cable is mistakenly pulled out), and granular quality of service (QoS) that allows users to assign minimum thresholds for IOPS, bandwidth and latency.

According to Prasad, support for QoS varies among all-flash array vendors. He said HP and SolidFire support the feature in the "truest sense of the word," with the ability to prioritize one application over another in software, as opposed to basic hardware partitioning that can require administrative effort and knowledge. The HP-SolidFire approach allows users to "change it every second, every minute of the day just by switching a knob," he said.

HP touts the StoreServ 7450's full-feature set as one of the product's differentiators. Other capabilities include snapshots, inline zero-detect deduplication, asynchronous and synchronous replication and data-at-rest encryption. One of the few features the product does not offer is inline data compression.

The HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 is the only major all-flash array to support all three major types of flash drives, from the most expensive and highest endurance single-level cell (SLC) to midgrade enterprise multilevel cell (eMLC) and the least expensive and lower endurance MLC drives.

HP recently changed the warranty on its MLC drives from three years to five years, but the warranty on the SLC and eMLC remains three years.

"Customers have not been asking for any other warranty" on the SLC and eMLC drives, explained Prasad. "It's only on the MLC drives that customers have some concerns on whether these types of drives will wear out after three years. We went back and told them, 'Look, if you are concerned, we'll offer you a five-year warranty on these MLC SSDs."

Equipped with 920 GB MLC SSDs, the four-node 3PAR StoreServ 7450 is among the higher capacity options available in all-flash arrays with a maximum of 220 TB of raw capacity. Most 7450 sales are four-node systems, according to Prasad.

HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 customers include the research and development group at Nuance Communications, which makes voice recognition and language software, and ExactTarget, a company specializing in marketing automation and campaign management.

HP said there could be performance degradation of up to 25% during controller failure in a two-node configuration and up to 15% in a four-node configuration. There would be no impact if CPUs and controllers operate at less than 75% utilization, according to HP. Data is accessible during controller failure.

Estimated street pricing for the StoreServ 7450 starts at $38,000 for a two-node configuration with 800 GB raw capacity. HP claims the array costs $6 per GB based on raw capacity (without factoring in deduplication) for a two-node system with 48 920 GB SSDs and $0.18 per IOPS for two nodes with 24 100 GB SSDs.

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