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IBM FlashSystem V840 storage array gets an update

The IBM FlashSystem V840 all-flash array is beefed up with performance and scalability improvements, not to mention refreshed software – and all just four months after the storage system launched.

IBM today beefed up the performance, ratcheted up the scalability and refreshed the software of the FlashSystem V840, just four months after launching the all-flash storage array.

The IBM FlashSystem V840 is the feature-rich model in the vendor's all-flash array (AFA) updated portfolio, in contrast to the stripped-down FlashSystem 840 that focuses on extreme performance without data reduction and advanced storage functions that can impact latency and IOPS.

IBM Fellow Andrew Walls, distinguished engineer, CTO and chief architect of the company's flash systems, said the FlashSystem V840's performance improves by at least 33% with the updated product, which became available in mid-July. The newer V840 integrates the FlashSystem with IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software stack in a new control enclosure, which Walls said is 36% more power efficient than the prior model.

"That [new control unit] gives us increased performance with compression, as well as significant increases just in raw performance, whether it be just read or write IOPS or doing snapshots or global metro mirror and compression," Walls said.

The original V840 had two 1U rack units, but the updated model integrates the packaging into a single 2U system with an integrated battery for easier installation and maintenance, according to Kevin Powell, the business line program director of IBM FlashSystem.

Powell said each new V840 control enclosure has 16 cores of processing power and 64 GB of cache, compared to six cores and 24 GB of cache per control enclosure in the original V840. Because the V840 is always a dual-controller system, the news system contains 32 cores of processing power and 128 GB of cache.

IBM claims the updated V840 scales performance up to 2.5 million IOPS and increases capacity up to a maximum of eight flash enclosures of 40 TB each, or 320 TB of uncompressed flash. Factoring in 5-to-1 real-time compression, the capacity could potentially soar to 1.6 PB in a single system, Powell said.

Customers can increase usable capacity of upgraded IBM FlashSystem 840

Earlier this year, IBM had listed the capacity limits of the original FlashSystem V840 model at 264 TB raw and 192 TB usable, or 960 TB with data reduction. The maximum capacity of the 840 was 66 TB raw or 48 TB usable.

The updated V840's entry configuration is a 6U rack mount system that can supply 2 TB to 40 TB of RAID-protected flash. Walls said customers can add flash storage enclosures to increase the usable capacity or add control enclosures to increase performance, cache and SAN connectivity.

The feature list includes inline compression, thin provisioning, snapshots, replication, data encryption, and storage virtualization. Walls noted that the storage virtualization capabilities can help customers to migrate data from existing systems to the IBM FlashSystem V840.

Walls said he sees a need for the performance-focused FlashSystem 840 and the feature-rich FlashSystem V840. He said the IBM FlashSystem 840 is used to accelerate database and online analytical processing (OLAP) applications, which would allow the application to perform storage functions such as remote copy and virtualization.

"There, the key is keeping that latency very low and the IOPS very high. So, I still see a need for that and having the cost as low as possible," Walls said. "But, we will continue to tightly integrate the tier 1 storage functionality . . . and continue to improve the performance."

Supermarket chain invests in V840

Compression was the most attractive feature for The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, a supermarket chain based in Montvale, N.J., according to Richard Angelillo, vice president of information services at the company.

A&P purchased the 40 TB IBM FlashSystem V840 within the last 45 days as the long-term replacement for its end-of-life and disk-based DS4800s. Angelillo said he was interested in improving the performance of his business applications and reducing the footprint of his data systems.

Angelillo said the V840 is probably large enough to handle the grocery chain's entire production environment, especially with compression factored in. He said he is not sure if A&P will use additional features, because many of them carry an additional licensing cost.

"The compression was definitely of interest, and we have that," he said. "I do know we had to be pretty conservative regarding which of the [additional] features we were going to license at this point in time. But, I like the flexibility of being able to add that stuff in the future if we need it."


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Is storage array functionality like snapshot and replication a must for all-flash arrays? Or is high performance enough?