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HP storage systems to feature small form factor SAS drives

Hewlett-Packard plans to ship 2.5-inch SAS drives in MSA 2000 RAID arrays early 2009 and in EVA midrange systems in late 2009.

Hewlett-Packard is planning an aggressive rollout of new high-capacity small form factor SAS drives, with the 2.5-inch drives likely to show up in MSA RAID arrays by early 2009 and in EVA midrange storage systems late next year.

Jimmy Daley, HP's Industry Standard Server (ISS) marketing manager, said HP will make Seagate's new 300 GB Savvio 10,000 rpm drive available for internal storage and direct-attached JBODs beginning on Monday.

HP also plans to be the first major storage vendor to roll out small form factor drive support in an external RAID array, beginning with the MSA 2000 series early next year. The MSA 70 JBOD already supports small form factor drives.

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The 2.5-inch small form factor drives allow vendors to build denser systems in the same amount of floor space as systems with the 3.5-inch drives use now. The greater density reduces energy consumption and helps solve capacity issues IT shops struggle with today.

HP ships 2.5-inch 3 Gbps SAS drives in its servers and DAS, and is working to qualify the Savvio 15K.2 15,000 rpm small form factor SAS drive Seagate launched last month. Seagate is also making a strong push for small form factor SAS for the storage industry.

HP also expects to be at the forefront of shipping 6 Gbps SAS-2 drives when they become available, probably next year, Daley said. "You'll see early availability from us."

The EVA will likely have 6 Gbps small form factor SAS drives by the end of 2009, Daley said. Small form factor for EVA will come later than for MSA because it will take longer to port EVA's software management and virtualization features

"EVA will adopt small form factor, but a little slower, most likely in late 2009, when we see the entire industry making a larger transition to 6 Gbps SAS," Daley said.

However, HP doesn't expect 3.5-inch drives to disappear soon. In the near term, according to Daley, EVA users would balance trays of high-performance, relatively low-capacity small form factor SAS drives with separate tiers of high-capacity, low-performance 3.5-inch SATA drives.

This will be a hurdle for users to overcome during a transition to smaller form factor drives, according to IDC analyst David Reinsel. "What people are going to have to deal with is how far they leverage 3.5-inch SATA and how to best manage data among those tiers."

Over the long term, Daley said HP expects 2.5-inch drives to offer the same aerial densities that 3.5-inch drives offer today, but with a lower power profile and the ability to build much denser systems in the same amount of floor space. "The impetus [for the transition] is space, density, power, performance and reliability," Daley said.

Other large storage vendors haven't been as vocal about 2.5-inch drives as HP, but IDC analyst John Rydning expects 2009 to be a major transition year for drives. "Almost all vendors are looking at [small form factor] now for 2009," he said. "I think you'll see quite a few announcements in 2009, though that might not be quite how quickly you start seeing shipments."

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