IBM recently announced enhanced versions of their all-flash storage arrays, the new FlashSystem™ V9000 and FlashSystem 900 storage systems.
FlashSystem V9000 & 900 enhancements
IBM’s new FlashSystem 900 is an update to their previous generation FlashSystem 840 using new NAND technology and new controller software. The FlashSystem V9000 combines an embedded, FlashSystem 900 together with an IBM San Volume Controller (SVC) storage system and can be extended to incorporate an additional FlashSystem 900.
FlashSystem storage now uses higher-density, NAND technology from Micron, which allows the new FlashSystem 900 to support more storage capacity in the same system footprint. IBM designed the new MicroLatency® flash storage module with Micron’s NAND technology in mind and now the FlashSystem 900 supports up to 57TB of protected flash storage in a single storage system.
The new FlashSystem V9000 is an update to the FlashSystem V840 that supports IBM Real- time Compression™ (RTC), non-disruptive code updates, IBM FlashCopy™ (snapshot), remote replication, thin provisioning and other advanced data management capabilities. A FlashSystem V9000 storage system can be extended to include up to four FlashSystem V9000s in a single cluster. A four-node FlashSystem V9000 cluster can offer up to almost a half a PB of protected flash storage in a single rack. With RtC, FlashSystem V9000 storage system can support up to 5X its raw protected flash capacity in compressed data storage and as such, a four-node FlashSystem V9000 cluster should result in single rack of up to 2.2PB of usable, compressed flash storage.
IBM FlashCore Technology
IBM FlashCore technology™, the suite of engineering innovations unique to IBM FlashSystem, enhances NAND reliability and FlashSystem IO performance, among many other accomplishments. It spans the entire storage system, from the FlashSystem controller to the MicroLatency Storage modules, and includes NAND controllers. FlashCore technology allows IBM to use higher-density NAND technology in enterprise applications without decreasing FlashSystem reliability or IO performance.
For example, one key capability of IBM FlashCore technology is a new health/heat binning, done on a NAND page basis. Historically, flash wear leveling algorithms treated all flash pages as equivalent, capable of the same number of program/erase operations, and treated all IO operations as the same, considering any block being written as equivalent to any other block of data.
IBM FlashCore technology heat and health binning breaks this paradigm by treating flash pages differently, depending on current health level. As such, less healthy NAND pages are relegated to storing colder (modified less often) data and healthy NAND pages are reserved for storing hot (modified more often) data. That way, write data is stored in NAND that best matches its activity level, prolonging the endurance of the NAND memory and thus the FlashSystem storage.
Gartner recently mentioned that IBM was number one in the all-flash array storage market and the new FlashSystem V9000 and FlashSystem 900 should continue that momentum. Moreover, the relationship with Micron looks promising and with IBM FlashCore technology, FlashSystem storage should be able to take advantage of Micron NAND technology advancements over to provide added value to their customers.
IO performance wasn’t specifically discussed at the announcement but the impression was that performance was equivalent if not better than previous generation FlashSystem storage. Higher density NAND storage makes this more difficult to achieve but IBM FlashCore technology keeps performance and reliability heading in the right direction.
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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.