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Coraid Inc. NAS gets more cache for heavy I/O loads

Coraid adds to its ZFS-based NAS platform with the ZX4000, which has more RAM cache than the ZX3000, launched last year by the EtherDrive vendor.

Coraid Inc. today expanded its ZX scale-out network-attached storage family with a system that contains more memory cache to handle higher rates of I/O for unstructured data in cloud, video and big data environments.

The new Coraid ZX4000 has 256 GB of RAM compared to the Coraid ZX3000 introduced last year with 96 GB of RAM. The ZX device uses the Zettabyte File System (ZFS) and Coraid's EtherDrive SRX block storage on the back end. EtherDrive storage uses the ATA over Ethernet (AoE) protocol instead of the more popular iSCSI. The Coraid network-attached storage (NAS) devices handle NFS and CIFS data over Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or 10 GbE.

"The ZX4000 is for media and large virtualization environments or file sharing that have large I/O requirements. Customers wanted more memory and the ZX4000 was born out of that," said Suda Srinivasan, Coraid's senior director of product marketing. "It's a more powerful machine. You have a better processor. The ZX3000 is for large capacity. Both scale to 16 shelves, but the ZX4000 gives better I/O performance for random I/Os."

Another difference in the ZX4000 is a 2U device instead of the 1U ZX3000. Both Coraid NAS products use the ZFS RAIDZ-3 for triple parity so a system can sustain three drive failures and still have data protection. Coraid has designed the ZX4000 to load two drives per shelf, which means one entire shelf can go down and the customer will still have data protection. Block storage is deployed as a pool on the back end and then carved up and used by any number of front-end applications and file systems.

"The ZX4000 is bigger, better and faster [than the ZX3000]," said Robin Harris, a data storage analyst at StorageMojo. "It supports up to 1.6 TB of solid-state drives [SSDs], which are the largest SSDs that I'm aware of."

Harris said the ZX4000 allows customers to add as many SSDs as a system needs to handle small reads for latency.

Coraid claims running a SAN over the AoE protocol results in better performance and lower costs than using iSCSI. The ZX4000 is generally available now and starts at $400 a terabyte.

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