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HP brings out 3PAR all-flash array

Todd Erickson

Hewlett-Packard (HP) today joined the all-flash storage array parade with a version of its 3PAR StoreServ system configured specifically for solid-state drives (SSDs).

The 3PAR StoreServ

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7450 is a scale-out all-flash array that can provide up to 550,000 IOPS with less than 0.7 milliseconds latency, according to HP, and it utilizes the same core architecture found in HP's 3PAR hard disk drive (HDD) arrays.

The HP 3PAR 7450 scales from eight to 250 2.5-inch 400 GB multi-level cell (MLC) SSD drives for a maximum capacity of 96 TB. The eight-drive, entry-level configuration has two controllers in a 2U form factor, and will provide up 280,000 IOPS, HP Storage vice president of marketing Craig Nunes said. The 7450 also supports 100 GB and 200 GB single-level cell (SLC) drives. The system is also available in four-controller configurations.

HP has sold an all-flash version of its StoreEasy (previous LeftHand) iSCSI SAN system since February 2012, and began supporting flash in its StoreServ platform in July 2012. The 7450 is HP's first enterprise array configured specifically for SSDs.

The 7450 includes advanced features of the 3PAR platform such as federated data mobility, persistent cache and ports and a peer-based stretch cluster in multiple locations for data-center failover.

HP also introduced new adaptive read-and-write technology and changes to the 3PAR ASIC to optimize the flash. The autonomic cache offload software adjusts how and when the cache flushes based on demand.

"With flash workloads, you can be overrun with performance and your cache can actually become a bottleneck if it's not flushing fast enough," Nunes said. "We actually modulate performance of our flushing based on the incoming workload activity."

HP 3PAR clusters the storage controllers in a mesh architecture that keeps all of its volumes active for high availability and high performance.

HP 3PAR's StoreServe ASIC uses a zero-detection technology to remove allocated but unused space, and a suite of thin-provisioning software for data compaction, Nunes said.

HP joins the ranks of traditional storage vendors releasing or at least planning to release all-SSD systems this year. IBM Corp. acquired Texas Memory Systems in 2012 and launched its FlashSystem platform in April. Dell announced an all-flash version of its Compellent SAN array last week, due to ship later this year EMC Corp. launched a limited release of its XtremeIO all-flash array in March, and NetApp has revealed plans to release a FlashRay all-flash array to go with its E Series E5400 flash array for high-performance computing.

Startups had largely defined the all-flash market until this year. Violin Memory Inc., Nimbus Data, Whiptail Technologies Inc., Pure Storage and others offer arrays purpose-built for all-flash storage.

In adding flash to its 3PAR platform, HP is playing to its biggest strength in an otherwise-struggling storage portfolio. The 3PAR line has consistently increased in revenue since HP acquired 3PAR for $1.6 billion in 2010, while other HP storage revenue has dropped.

According to the most recent IDC Disk Storage Systems Tracker report released last week, HP's networked storage revenue dropped 17.5% last quarter from the previous year to $501 million. That put it fifth, behind EMC, NetApp, IBM and Hitachi Data Systems. HP's market share fell from 10.2% to 8.5% over the year. Despite that decline, HP claims 3PAR revenue grew 82% from the previous year.

"I don't think anyone [at HP] or their competitors would deny that for a few years they've needed to step things up in storage," said Mark Peters, Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst.

Peters described the StoreServ 7450 as an all-SSD array "with all the features and functions that you would expect from a high-end storage product."

Pricing for the entry level, eight-drive HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 starts at $99,000. It includes two controllers and three years of 24/7 support and is available now.


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