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NetApp revamps FAS filers with 15TB flash and NVMe

NetApp brings its Ontap 9 operating system and hardware changes to its FAS and all-flash FAS multi-protocol arrays with a range that scales up to tens of petabytes

NetApp has refreshed its entire FAS storage array range with improvements to controller hardware and upgrades to its Ontap operating system that boost performance and capacity.

The announcement comprises six FAS arrays: the entry-level FAS2600 series with base units of 12- or 24-drive capacity that scale to 576 drives; the midrange FAS8200 that scales from 12 drives to 480, and; the high-end FAS9000 that goes up to 1,440 spinning disk HDDs and 480 flash drives or a combination of the two.

NetApp also announced two All Flash FAS arrays, the AFF A 300 and AFF A700, which scale to 70PB and 88PB respectively and promise “double the IOPS at half the latency of previous AFF arrays”, according to NetApp products manager Laurence James, although the NetApp spec sheet provides no figures on this.

Drive types accommodated range from nearline-SAS for less access-sensitive data to flash drives, including 15TB SSDs that can allow customers to pack a petabyte into a 2U shelf.

Storage protocols supported include block access Fibre Channel, FcoE, iSCSI plus file access NFS and CIFS/SMB.

Also new to these arrays is NetApp Flash Cache with NVMe connectivity.

NVMe is a recent advance in the PCIe interface. It significantly reduces the overhead suffered by PCIe SSD hardware that uses SAS/SATA protocols and allows them to take advantage of the parallelism of the latest PCIe 3.0 specification.

Previously, Sata drives were limited to around 500MBps throughput and even the latest SAS drives to around 1.5GBps. NVMe potentially more than doubles this and allows the speed of flash media to operate almost unrestricted by the PCIe connection.

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NetApp upgraded its operating system to Ontap version 9 earlier in summer 2016, with a focus on flash read and write optimisation, as well as addition of data compaction as a method of making more efficient use of disk space resulting from data deduplication and compression.

Ontap 9 also brought Flexgroups, which are a single addressable NAS namespace that scales to 20PB and 400 billion files. This, said James, will allow NetApp to “compete with [EMC] Isilon” for clustered NAS customers.

The FAS range of block and file access flash and HDD storage arrays are aimed at enterprise users, with a full range of storage features such as replication and snapshots, encryption and quality of service.

Meanwhile, NetApp’s Solidfire all-flash arrays are aimed at service providers with stricter quality of service requirements in multi-tenancy environments, while the company’s E-series hardware is for those with no need for storage features, usually in high-performance database cases.

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