Increasing server storage capacity couldn't be easier, and Broadberry's new DAS appliance is furiously fast as wellDave Mitchell 7 Dec 2010 |
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There may be a wealth of network storage solutions available, but direct attached storage (DAS) arrays deliver the best performance and the easiest way of upgrading server capacity. Broadberry's latest CyberStore 212S-DAS brings together a fine combination of 6Gbits/sec SAS storage, some interesting upgrade options and huge expansion potential.
Based on a Supermicro 2U chassis, the 212S-DAS has a dozen hot-swap drive bays; our review unit was supplied with a quartet of Hitachi's latest 300GB high-performance 6Gbits/sec SAS drives. You can opt to reduce costs and performance by opting for SATA drives; Broadberry offers near-line SAS drives, which deliver the capacity of SATA but with dual-port SAS drive electronics, and are only fractionally more expensive. Broadberry advised us that a chassis populated with 12 2TB Seagate near-line SAS drives costs £4,990 exc VAT.
The £2,990 price here includes an LSI SAS 9280-8e PCI Express RAID controller, which, along with support for all key array types including dual-drive redundant RAID6, offers online array migration and capacity expansion, plus global and dedicated hot-sparing. The array backplane is cabled through to the rear of the chassis and presented as a pair of mini-SAS SFF-8088 ports. One is used to connect the array to the host server, and the SAS expander on its backplane allows the card to support all drive bays.
The second port can be used to daisy-chain more arrays, and the only limitation is the number of drives: the LSI card can handle up to 240 devices. The SAS ports are of the hot-plug variety, so additional arrays can be added without bringing down the host server; online capacity expansion means the new drives can be added to existing arrays.
LSI recently released optional firmware upgrades to the RAID card that add volume snapshots for point-in-time backups, support for FDE hard disks and SSD caching. Snapshots, for instance, costs £220.
For testing, we fitted the LSI card in a Dell PowerEdge R715 server equipped with dual 12-Core Opteron 6174 processors, 32GB of DDR3 memory and running Windows Server 2008 R2. The card was automatically identified, leaving us only to install LSI's MegaRAID management software.
Once the array was plugged in, the drives were recognised and we created a single striped array across all four drives. We tested streaming read and write speeds with Iometer configured with eight workers, a 128 queue depth and an equal spread of 64KB, 128KB and 256KB block sizes. For sequential operations, the 212S-DAS delivered a stunning 2,320MB/sec raw read throughput and an equally impressive 424MB/sec for writes.
DAS arrays are ideal for businesses wanting to expand server capacity quickly. The CyberStore 212S-DAS is a fine example since this array can be deployed in minutes and delivers top performance.
Author: Dave Mitchell