IBM 2012Oct03 introduces a new DS8870 storage subsystem

In Data storage, DS8000, DS8800, DS8870, IBM, IOPS, MBPS, SPC, SPC-1, SPC-2 by AdministratorLeave a Comment

IBM® has recently introduced a new version of their enterprise storage DS8000 product line called the IBM Systems Storage® DS8870.

IBM DS8870

The DS8870 upgrades the computing hardware, adds more cache and improves energy efficiency over the DS8800 storage.  This is the 5th generation of the popular DS8000 series that dates back to 2004 and the System Storage DS8300.

New IBM DS8870 hardware

It all starts with the changeover to the new POWER7 processing chip running at ~3.6 GHz. With this new microprocessor the DS8870 now supports 2 to 16 cores per controller.  It appears the more cache installed in a system, the more processing cores are available for code execution.

Furthermore, the DS8870 supports up to 1024GB (1TB) of DRAM cache.  This should help the more cache friendly workloads that many enterprises encounter these days.  At 1TB it’s almost 3X more cache than what was available previously with the DS8800.

Also, IBM redesigned the DS8870 for higher energy efficiency.  The new system with 1536 drives, running 100% read miss workload (worst case) is ~20% more energy efficient than a similarly configured DS8800.  Moreover, the DS8870 is now ROHS compliant and meets 2013 European Union requirements for restricting hazardous materials use during manufacturing and in the DS8870 system itself.

In addition, self-encrypting drives which previously had been optional, now come standard on all DS8870 storage.  This provides for scalable disk and SSD drive encryption of data-at-rest for environments that need extra security and supplies safe, cryptographically secure destruction of customer data in seconds rather than days.

Finally, the DS8870 rack has dedicated space for IBM’s new Ultlra SSD I/O drawer. This will be a new dense flash memory configuration coming out next year.

IBM DS8870 performance

With all the new processing power and increased cache one would think I/O performance would improve as well. Indeed, the new DS8870 provides over 1.8X better sequential read throughput and 2.8X better database like open systems IOPS performance.  The DS8870 does slightly better on System z, with z IOPS coming in at 3.1X better. All performance comparisons were based against a DS8800 system.

In addition, IBM released SPC-1 results showing 451K IO operations per second, with a least response time of  <1.1msec at a price of ~$4.9M using 1536-15Krpm disk drives.  Also, IBM released new SPC-2 numbers with the DS8870 providing 15.4GB/second of throughput[1].

New IBM DS8870 functionality

The new DS8870 inherits all the same functionality of the previous generation DS8800. In fact, IBM stated that the DS8870 had 94% of the same microcode as the DS8800.

However, the new DS8870 also introduces some sorely needed VMware vStorage API’s for Array Integration (VAAI) support for ATS and full copy. Follow-on releaases next year will also support VAAI block zeroing, vCenter Plug-in (for DS8870 monitoring/ management) and SRM 5.x support.

Announcement Significance

The DS8000 series is IBM’s marquee, enterprise class storage and has the widest OS support available from IBM storage. With the new DS8870 each of these environments has a new very capable and compelling storage system to use.

Moreover, we always like to see performance numbers and new SPC numbers are a nice touch.  With the 451K I/O operations per second the new DS8870 is a great addition to IBM’s storage portfolio.  Just imagine what an 8-node San Volume Controller (SVC) configuration can do with DS8870’s behind it.

Finally, the VAAI support has been missing for a while now and it’s good to see IBM stepping up now.  Most other enterprise vendors are ahead of IBM here, but perhaps this isn’t as much a priority for IBM DS8000, given all the other OS’s they support.  Nonetheless, enterprise class storage has become increasingly deployed outside historic IBM strongholds and as such, they must respond quicker to these other environments to remain a viable vendor of enterprise storage.


[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in October of 2012.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports.]

Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.

[1] SPC-1 and SPC-2 results available from as of 22Oct2012

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