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Dot Hill rolls out 2.5-inch SAS, SSD systems

Dot Hill pushes out 2.5-inch SAS systems with the expectation that the small form factor drives will overtake 3.5-inch drives in the near future.

Dot Hill Systems Corp. is launching a family of 2.5-inch RAID storage systems to move ahead of the curve of what industry experts agree will be a major trend this year.

Dot Hill today added the 2722 Fibre Channel (FC) and 2522 (SAS) arrays to its 2000 series of entry-level RAID systems. Dot Hill product manager Scott McClure says he expects the 2722 to be available next week through Dot Hill partners, with the 2522 expected in April. To keep up with another industry trend, McClure says the systems will support solid-state drives (SSDs), perhaps in time for the launch of the 2522.

Dot Hill sells storage systems through OEM partners, including Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co., NetApp and Sun Microsystems Inc., as well as smaller integrators. HP said last month it would offer the Modular Smart Array 2000 (MSA2000) with 2.5-inch drives early this year. The MSA2000 will be based on the Dot Hill 2522.

The 2U 24-drive 2722 and 2522 systems use Dot Hill's RAID 6 controllers and are available with the vendor's AssuredSnap snapshot and AssuredCopy volume copy data protection software. The systems can scale to 96 drives by adding 24-bay JBOD expansion units.

Small form factor (SFF) 2.5-inch drives are expected to replace traditional 3.5-inch drives as the dominant drives in storage systems by 2010 or 2011, although HP is the only major vendor to set its timeframe for shipping an SFF system. SFF drives let vendors pack more capacity and spindles into the same space, which is important as companies struggle to add capacity without taking up more floor space.

"That's the future, the direction we're going [in]," says StorageIO Group analyst Greg Schulz of 2.5-inch drives. "With the smaller drives, you get the same performance in a smaller footprint because you can put more in there. You have increased density, [and] more IOPS, capacity and spindles with the smaller form factor, and that equates to more efficiency."

The Dot Hill systems will support 15,000 rpm 36 GB and 72 GB and 10,000 rpm 146 GB and 300 GB SAS drives. McClure says he expects most customers to go for the 300 GB drives -- even though they have slower spin times than the smaller drives -- because more spindles can be crammed into the denser boxes.

"We think people will buy [the] highest capacity drive they can get," he says. "We expect to see a migration to 10K because you can get higher spindle counts."

McClure says Dot Hill is drive agnostic, and uses SAS drives from Fujitsu, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Seagate Technology LLC. He says Intel Corp. X25-E Extreme SATA SSDs will be offered at the start, but Dot Hill will consider more options for SSDs as they become available. He says SSDs should be available around April, in time for the 2522 launch. He also expects Dot Hill to support 6 Gbps SAS drives (current drives are 3 Gbps) this year.

Most storage vendors will support SSDs soon, if they don't already, although most of the announcements so far have been for enterprise and midrange systems. Schulz says they will likely be commonly supported in entry-level systems such as Dot Hill's 2000 series soon.

"SSDs will be table stakes in all storage systems by the end of the year," he says. "Whether people use them or not remains to be seen."

Pricing begins at approximately $16,000 for a system with 3.5 TB of SAS drives.


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