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Nimble enters all-flash market with AF series arrays

Nimble Storage – until now solely a provider of hybrid flash arrays – has added the AF series of all-flash arrays to its portfolio

Nimble Storage has added a series of all-flash arrays to its existing hybrid flash portfolio. The latest AF series all-flash arrays can scale to 8.2PB in a cluster and can operate with the existing Adaptive Flash CS series hybrid flash arrays to provide different performance tiers.

The AF series comprises four Fibre Channel or iSCSI-connected arrays: The entry-level AF3000 and AF5000 (with 50,000/120,000 IOPS per base unit and 6TB to 92TB/11TB to 184TB raw capacity), the mid-range AF7000 (230,000 IOPS, 11TB to 323TB raw) and the high-end AF9000 (300,000 IOPS, 23TB to 553TB).

AF series arrays can scale up to 2PB in a single (AF9000) array and up to 8.2PB in a cluster. AF series all-flash arrays can also be joined in a cluster with Nimble CS series, with replication between the two products possible owing to use of a common operating system.

AF series arrays use Samsung 3D V NAND solid state storage in 4TB drives. V NAND boosts flash capacity by stacking cells on top of each other.

Nimble marketing director Gavin Cohen said: “We guarantee a seven-year lifespan by taking a lot of flash management into software, so we avoid write amplification and do garbage collection our own way, for example.”

Nimble also claims to use a “memory efficient architecture”, which requires between 10 times and 30 times less memory, said Cohen.

“There’s as much metadata as with any other array, but it’s down to how you manage it. We have paid a lot of attention to how we do that.”

In this release, Nimble has made much of the ability of its InfoSight management suite to predict and prevent issues that slow down application performance. This is partly a feature of its remote monitoring, which it claims to deal with 90% of issues before the customer knows about them.

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These include array disk, power and temperature issues that can be detected, as well as host and virtualisation environment problems and networking issues.

Nimble made its name offering hybrid flash products. These are the CS family of arrays that come in four products from the entry-level CS200 to the CS700 extreme performance array.

During 2015 Nimble added the capability to pin workloads permanently to flash, creating what the company termed an “all-flash service level” for applications in CS arrays.

So why has Nimble decided to add all-flash to its existing hybrid flash portfolio?

“Hybrid does for 90% of mainstream apps, but doesn’t quite have it for the most latency-sensitive apps. All-flash has the performance, but is too expensive for a lot of use cases. We offer a single architecture for both these scenarios,” said Cohen.

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