6 Server Trends Storage Admins Can't Ignore
January 26, 2011
4. Multi-core Processors Demand Faster Storage I/O
Fast servers need fast I/O and storage to remove roadblocks or barriers that could result in inefficient or lost productivity. High-density servers, for example, need fast interconnects, including PCIe Gen2 and recently announced Gen3.
"Servers are increasingly having native SAS ports onboard moving from 3 GB/sec to 6 Gb/sec with 12 Gb/s on the roadmap," said Greg Schulz, an analyst with Server and StorageIO Group.
SSD also plays a part in faster IO. Trucking company Pitt Ohio Express, for example, uses SSD to eliminate slow server response. The company installed flash in its EMC Clariion CX4 disk array to eliminate a bottleneck due to high I/O from a reporting server.
"Over 100 Fibre Channel disks in the array were struggling to cope with the workload," said Jules Thomas, IT manager of Pitt Ohio. "By adding nine SSD drives, we have been able to give that disk array plenty of breathing room. FC Drives get about 180 IOPS per spindle, and the SSDs get around 2400 IOPS per drive."
5. Smaller Drives
SAS 2.5 inch drives are finding their way into servers for both high performance as well as higher capacity. The Seagate Constellation is one example of a small form factor that offers 1 Tb of space.
"Despite declarations that the hard disk drive is dead, what is alive is the industry's evolving movement towards small form factor 2.5 inch fast SAS as well as high-capacity SAS drives complimented by some SSD," said Schulz.
Mini-SATA, or mSATA, too, has arrived on the marketplace. Currently, it supports transfer rates up to 3.0 Gb/s on a platter around the size of a business card. It will not be long before these begin to be used in servers.
6. Hybrid Drives
While the continued adoption of SSD in servers will displace some hard drives, it is also giving rise to hybrids. Seagate, for example is combining hard drives, RAM and Flash in a single sealed integrated drive.
"The ones I have seen contain 500GB hard drive, 4GB of flash as a buffer for the hard drive and 32MB RAM as a general drive buffer -- all in a 2.5 inch package with a SATA interface spinning at 7200 RPM," said Schulz. "It dispenses with the need for special host/server/controllers to move data around."
Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).