IBM announces new DS8880F AFA and HPFE Gen 2

In DS8880F AFA, DS8884F, DS8886F, DS8888F by AdministratorLeave a Comment

IBM® recently announced new versions of their IBM DS8880F all-flash family of storage systems that include a new generation of their High-Performance Flash Enclosure (HPFE).

New DS8884F, DS8886F and DS8888F storage systems

IBM says that every model of DS8880F storage has a re-architected backend to reduce IO latency and now has the best IO response time in enterprise storage. System hardware includes:

  • DS8884F – 2 Power Systems S822 with 6 core Power 8 processing/S822 (12 total), 256GB Cache and 32 FC/FICON ports with a total of 6.4TB to 154TB of flash capacity
  • DS8886F – 2 Power Systems S824 with 24 core Power 8 processing/S824 (48 total), 2TB cache and 128 FC/FICON ports with a total of 6.4TB to 614.4TB of flash capacity.
  • DS8888F – 2 Power Systems E850 with 48 core Power 8 processing/E850 (96 total), 2TB cache and 128 FC/FICON ports with a total of 6.4TB to 1.22PB of flash capacity.

The code for all the systems is the same, so each of these systems includes all the same functionality, rock solid reliability and 6-9’s availability of the DS8000 storage system.

Performance for the systems at less than 0.5 msec, is 550K IO/sec for DS8884F, 1.7M IO/sec for DS8886F and 2.5M IO/sec for DS8888F. A 4KB IO OLTP simulation workload with 70% read, 30% write and 50% cache hit ratio was used by IBM to measure these performance numbers.

All the new DS8880F storage systems utilize the HPFE Gen2 to achieve much higher bandwidth or throughput performance. The increased bandwidth performance has opened the DS8880F storage beyond being deployed for business-critical infrastructure to real time analytics and high performance data warehouse applications as well.

New HPFE Gen2

The new HPFE Gen2 now supports high density 1.6TB and 3.2TB flash cards, driving $/GB down. Also, IBM is now closely aligned with flash storage vendors and expects to follow the flash density curves faster than they have in the past. The HPFE Gen2 is a 4-U enclosure that supports 16, 32 or 48 2.5” flash storage cards.

One of the real keys to the performance improvements in the new DS8880F storage is that they have re-architected the HPFE Gen2 for more and faster data paths than HPFE Gen1. For example, from 2 PCIe2 to 2 PCIe3 connections to the storage subsystem and now includes 8X4 lane 6Gbps SAS for drive attachments. This means there are not only more PCIe lanes in HPFE Gen2 but also the PCIe lanes in HPFE Gen2 are faster as well.

Moreover, IBM has gone from an FPGA control to an ASIC for HPFE Gen2 control. This means that HPFE Gen2 has faster control logic which enables it to respond to DS8880F storage requests faster than HPFE Gen1.

All this means that the IO/Sec and IO bandwidth in HPGE Gen2 has both increased substantially. In fact, IBM says that HPFE Gen 2 provides read IO/sec of 650K and write IO/sec of 300K, which have both improved by 50% over Gen1. However, throughput (IO bandwidth) provide by HPFE Gen2 of 14GB/sec for read and 5GB/sec for write have improved by 268% and 85% respectively.


Nobody can afford to stand pat in todays’ hyper-competitive AFA market. IBM has taken their business-critical storage, and reduced its $/GB, increased random IO performance and now added higher IO throughput. Seems like a win-win for current and future customers looking for fast, efficient AFA for their new analytical and business critical applications.

Much of the performance and cost improvements come from the use of HPFE Gen2 new hardware. Spinning ASICs to improve the data path is not that common anymore but when done properly can offer significant benefits. IBM made the right move here.

[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in January of 2017.  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. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. Also we have recently updated (May 2019) our SAN Storage Buying Guide so if you are interested in purchasing block or primary storage, please checkout our Buying Guide available for sale on our website. ]  

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

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