IBM recently announced new versions of their DS8000 storage system, the DS8880 product family with a new low-end, hybrid and an upcoming, all-flash storage array.
New DS8880 storage hardware
IBM’s new DS8880 storage systems are built from the ground up with POWER8 processing with a faster PCIe3 bus all of which comes in an all-new 19” rack enclosure. The DS8880 product family includes DC-UPS for power backup for non-volatile storage and High Performance Flash Enclosure (HPFE) cards for super-fast PCIe flash storage. The new (22nm) POWER8 chip has 50% more cores, 130% higher sustained memory bandwidth and better energy efficiency than the POWER7 chips used in the previous generation DS8000 systems.
The DS8880 product family will come in three storage arrays:
- DS8884 – low-end (starts at $50K) mainframe and open system storage array with up to 12-POWER8 processing cores, 256GB system memory, 64-16Gbps FCP/FICON ports in 19” racks. The DS8884 supports up to 768 2.5” HDD/SSD drives and 120 HPFE (PCIe flash storage) cards.
- DS8886 – high-end hybrid mainframe and open system storage array with up to 48-POWER8 processing cores, 2TB of system memory, 128-16Gbps FCP/FICON ports in 19” racks. The DS8886 supports up to 1536 2.5” HDD/SSD drives and 240 HPFE cards.
- DS8888 (product preview) – a new, all-flash storage mainframe and open system storage array with up to 96-POWER8 processing cores, 2TB of system memory, 128-16Gbps FCP/FICON ports in 19” racks. The DS8888 supports up to 480 HPFE cards.
DS8880 storage performance
IBM has also enhanced the multi-thread operations of their storage software to take advantage of the multi-core POWER8 processing. Together with the multi-thread optimizations, system memory has doubled, compute cores have increased and internal bandwidth has been boosted, all of which has increased IO performance substantially.
As compared to the previous DS8870, the new DS8886 is ~1.6X faster on the Open OLTP benchmark (~1100K IOPs vs. ~1750K IOPS) and ~1.5X faster for z/OS OLTP workloads. Both of these benchmarks were run with a similar configuration of HPFE cards, i.e., the DS8870 had 16 POWER7 cores and 240 HPFE cards and the DS8886 had 24 POWER8 cores and 240 HPFE flash cards.
In addition, from a sequential throughput perspective, the 24 core DS8886 has ~2.1X (47 GB/sec. vs. 22 GB/sec.) the read sequential throughput and ~3.2X (35 GB/sec. vs. 11 GB/sec.) the write sequential throughput of the DS8870. Moreover, for database activity the DS8886 has ~1.4X (~1500K vs. 1096K IOPS) the IO performance for open systems and 1.7X (~1500K vs. 900K IOPS) the IO performance for zOS database activity. We believe these last two were measuring DB2 activity.
New DS8880 storage software
Other than the new multi-thread optimization discussed above there wasn’t much news on DS8880 software enhancements. But the DS8000 storage software has been being improved over a long time now and provides the best, native zOS integration in the industry.
IBM states that the new DS8880 storage systems has greater than 6-9’s availability under zOS, when using multi-target, Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy (MT-PPRC) services. Further, the DS8880 provides 3 second RPO, 4-way replication and fully automated site recovery well under 5 minutes for mainframe environments presumably using IBM zOS PPRC with GDPS business continuity services. As for VMware environments, the DS8880 supports VAAI, SRM and vCenter plugins for better storage management.
The addition of POWER8 processing, PCIe Gen3 bus, more system memory and 19” rack to the DS8000 series is a welcome improvement. The preview of the new all-flash storage is also interesting but without more information it’s hard to tell how well it will perform. Yet, the DS8886 vs. DS8870 benchmark comparisons were all-HPFE systems and there was a considerable speed up, even without the additional POWER8 cores and more HPFE cards that come in the DS8888 all-flash arrays.
The DS8000 has long been a favorite of mainframe customers, especially big banks (in 18 of the top 20 banks worldwide) but has had less of a following in the open systems data centers. Lately, IBM seems to have been concentrating more R&D effort on their software defined solutions and FlashSystem storage for the open market. Unclear why, with the new low-end DS884, IBM may just have a great enterprise solution for open systems, if they could just improve their DS8880 software integration with open systems.
Finally, we’re not sure what’s all included in the $50K, DS8884 mainframe starter edition, but at these prices it looks like IBM’s starting a mainframe storage price war. Just in time too, as recent storage startups are starting to talk about supporting mainframe IO. We know many mainframe customers who would welcome more aggressive pricing and increased competition for mainframe storage with open arms.
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Silverton Consulting, Inc., is a U.S.-based Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting firm offering products and services to the data storage community.