One way to build an inexpensive yet speedy storage server

Subject: Storage | December 15, 2014 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: SAS, hdd, DIY, LSI, Seagate, icy dock

You may want to build a server consisting of enterprise level SSDs to make sure it provides the best possible speeds to anyone accessing data stored there but the chances of you getting the budget for it are slim going on none.  That is why reading the guide on building servers from Modders Inc is worth your time if you find yourself pondering the best way to build a storage server on a budget without making it abysmally slow.  You have many choices when you are designing a storage server but if you are not quite sure where to start the list of components and the arguments for their usefulness will get you headed in the right direction.  For example the LSI MegaRAID SAS 9271-8i is an impressive RAID controller and with good SAS HDDs you can expect to see very good data throughput and will be more important than the CPU you select.  Check out the article right here.

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"IT infrastructure and storage has always been part of serious conversation between IT engineers and their bosses. As always IT Engineers want to use the best of the newest technologies while their bosses want to keep every project under a tight budget. It's always an ongoing battle, however both sides always come to some mutual agreement that benefits both sides."

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Storage

Source: Modders Inc

Meet the new LSI Sandforce controller

Subject: Storage | November 22, 2013 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: sandforce sf3700, LSI, Codename Griffin

That image may bear a remarkable resemblance to a DIMM but it is indeed an SSD using the PCIe M.2 connector.  The models that The SSD Review saw came in both M.2 and SATA versions with read and write speeds of up to 1.8GB/s over a PCIe 4x connection which is more than a little impressive.  They've taught this new controller another trick as well, DuraWrite Virtual Capacity could triple the storage available on an SSD virtually, a 128GB drive could store up to 384GB.  Hopefully we will get a more in depth description of how DVC will work in the near future.

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1 notch PCIe X4 = 2000MB/s
2 notch PCIe x2/SATA = max 1000MB/s or 550MB/s

"Since first discovery of the next gen LSI SandForce FSP , we have seen this controller shed its ‘ Codename Griffin’ skin and receive official validation as the new LSI SandForce SF-3700 Series flash controller, indeed capable of top SSD performance speeds of 1.8GB/s. There are a ton of questions that remain, however. Why hasn’t it been released? Why haven’t we seen thorough performance benchmarks? Are there heat issues with the controller? Is it possible, like folklore describing the Griffin with its head of an eagle and body of a lion, that the SF3700 family is myth and something that we may just never see? Let’s tackle these questions one by one, all the while showing you some early examples of what various LSI SandForce partners have to offer."

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Storage

Dell Unveils New T3610, T5610, and T7610 Workstations

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 9, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Xeon Phi, workstation, quadro, micron, LSI, k6000, Ivy Bridge-EP, firepro, dell

Along with the release of new mobile workstations, Dell announced three new desktop workstations. Specifically, Dell is launching the T3610, T5610, and T7610 PC workstations under its Precision series. The new systems reside in redesigned cases with improved cable management, removable power supplies (tool-less, removable by sliding out from rear panel), and in the case of the T7610 removable hard drives. All of the new Precision workstations have been outfitted with Intel's latest Ivy Bridge-EP based Xeon processors, ECC memory, workstation-class graphics cards from AMD and NVIDIA, Xeon Phi accelerator card options, LSI hardware RAID controllers, and updated software solutions from Intel and Dell.

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The new Precision workstations side-by-side. From left to right: T3610, T5610, and T7610.

Dell's Precision T3610 is a the mid-tower system of the group powered by single socket Xeon E5-2600 v2 hardware that further supports up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two graphics cards, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” SSDs.

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The Precision T3610, a new single socket, mid-range workstation.

The Precision T5610 ups the ante to a dual socket IVB-EP processor system that can be configured with up to 128GB DDR3 ECC memory, two AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro (e.g. Quadro K5000) graphics cards, a Tesla K20C accelerator card, three 3.5” hard drives, and four 2.5” solid state drives.

Finally, the T7610 workstation supports dual Intel Ivy Bridge-EP Xeon E5-2600 v2 series processors (up to 24 cores per system), up to 512GB DDR3 ECC memory, three graphics cards (including two NVIDIA Quadro K6000 cards), four 3.5” hard drives, and eight 2.5” SSDs.

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Dell's Precision T5610 dual socket workstation.

The new Precision workstations can also be configured with an Intel Xeon Phi 3120A accelerator card in lieu of a Tesla card. The choice will mainly depend on the applications being used and the development resources and expertise available. Both options are designed to accelerate highly parallel workloads in applications that have been compiled to support them. Further, users can add an LSI hardware RAID card with 1GB of onboard memory to the systems. Dell further offers a Micron P320h PCI-E SSD that, while not bootable, offers up 350GB of high performance storage that excels at high sequential reads and writes.

On the software front, Dell is including the Dell Precision Performance Optimizer and the Intel Cache Acceleration Software. The former automatically configures and optimizes the workstation for specific applications based on profiles that are reportedly regularly updated. The other bit of software works to optimize systems that use both hard drives and SSDs with the SSDs as a cache for the mechanical storage. The Intel Cache Acceleration Software configures the caching algorithms to favor caching very large files on the solid state storage. It is a different approach to consumer caching strategies, but one that works well with businesses that use these workstations to process large data sets.

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The Dell Precision T7610 workstation.

The Dell workstations are aimed at businesses doing scientific analysis, professional engineering, and complex 3D modeling. The T7610 in particular is aimed at the oil and gas industry for use in simulations and modeling as companies search for new oil deposits.

All three systems will be available for purchase worldwide beginning September 12th. Some of the options, such as 512GB of ECC and the NVIDIA Quadro K6000 on the T7610 will not be available until next month, however. The T3610 has a starting price of $1,099 while the T5610 and T7610 have starting prices of $2,729 and $3,059 respectively.

What are your thoughts on Dell's new mid-tower workstations?

Source: Dell

Kingspec Reveals 1TB PCI-E SSD Using Eight RAIDed mSATA SSDs

Subject: Storage | September 4, 2013 - 02:37 AM |
Tagged: ssd, PCIe SSD, msata, LSI, kingspec, jmicron

KingSpec recently started shipping a new PCI-E based SSD that achieves more than 2.5GB/s sequential read performance from multiple mSATA SSDs behind a 6Gbps LSI RAID controller. The KingSpec MC2J677M1T is a full height expansion card with a PCI-E 2.0 x8 interface.

The new KingSpec solid state drive is bootable and uses a 6Gbps LSI RAID controller that connects to eight 6Gbps mSATA slots. The drive comes in 1TB and 2TB total capacities and the eight 6Gbps mSATA slots are occupied by eight 128GB or 256GB mSATA SSDs. Each mSATA SSD is powered by a Jmircon SSD controller, NANYA-manufactured DRAM cache, and Intel MLC NAND flash. Further, the LSI RAID controller is actively cooled by a small fan.

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As far as performance goes, the 1TB model is rated at 84,000 IOPS and approximately 2GB/s sequential read and write transfer speeds. The SSD Review received a sample of the new drive and provided some preliminary benchmark results in the form of an ATTO benchmark run. At a queue depth of 4, the KingSpec MC2J677M1T achieved 4K reads of 2567 MB/s and 4K writes of 1613 MB/s.

The 1TB KingSpec PCI-E SSD will be available later this year for between $2,000 and $3,000 USD.

When asked for his thoughts, PC Perspective storage editor Allyn Malventano noted that the eight JMicron-driven mSATA SSDs in RAID is just asking for trouble, and the 4K random IO offered by the drive is actually less than some single drive SATA SSDs on the market. Unfortunately, the LSI RAID controller is “a major bottleneck for SSD-level random access.”

6Gbps is so last year

Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2013 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: LSI, PCIe SAS, SAS, 12Gbps

LSI has decided that saturating SATA 6Gbps is no longer a challenge and have moved on to 12Gbps, providing over 1 million IOPS for those in need of extreme storage speeds.  They provide this with a PCIe card using their SAS 3008 or 3004 controller with three of the four models providing 8 ports and one providing 4 ports with the "e" models providing external connectivity and the "i" models internal connectivity.  The drives on this adapter will be bootable as well as being incredibly fast even with multiple drives strung together.  There is no price at the Register but you can bet they will not be cheap.

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"LSI has begun shipping its first 12Gbps SAS adapters for storage arrays, servers and workstations, doubling the prevailing 6Gbps SAS data rate.

LSI's SAS 9300 HBA (Host Bus Adapter) runs at 12Gbit/sec, delivers over 1 million IOPS through a PCIe 3.0 connection to hosts, and comes in four versions."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Need high volume SSD storage and can afford the price? Solidata has 2TB drives

Subject: Storage | March 18, 2013 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: Solidata, K8 1920E 2TB, ssd, sf-1222, LSI, sandforce, Micron JMB393

We have seen some high capacity PCIe based SSDs but in the 2.5" form factor they have been few and far between.  This will soon change as Solidata will be releasing a 2 Terabyte SSD called the K8 1920E which will be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5000 when it becomes available.  Each one of the flash storage chips you can see below is a 64GB chip and with 16 on each side you get a full 2048GB of storage.  It uses four of the LSI Sandforce SF-1222 controllers and a Micron JMB393 SATA II RAID-5 controller which is configured to act as a 4 port hub, treating each of the controllers as a separate 512GB SSD.  Once the SSD Review had formatted the drive for use there was a total of 1788GB available for storage which did not support TRIM as it is technically behind a RAID card.  The performance was on par with expectations, keeping in mind the difficulties that SandForce controllers have with incompressible data. This drive will be very expensive but it seems it will be the first product of its type available to be purchased.

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"Ever since SSDs were introduced to the retail market back in 07, one of the main complaints has always been capacity. After all, the first SSD releases were only 32 and 64GB. The hopes of one day seeing the performance of an SSD coupled with the capacity of a hard drive has grown and, too many, we think our analysis of the new Solidata K8-1920E 2TB SSD might be welcome news."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: SSD Review

LSI Demo Shows SandForce SF-2000 Series Driving Toshiba 19nm and IMFT 20nm Flash

Subject: Storage | June 4, 2012 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: computex, SF-2000, sandforce, LSI, flash

As some of you may already be aware, SandForce was acquired by LSI back in January of this year. SandForce has made a very popular SSD controller for some time now and was the first maker to demo a controller driving 25nm flash (last year). Now SandForce (under LSI) has done it once again. This time with the same type of controller driving both 19nm Toshiba and 20nm Micron (IMFT) flash memory types:

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The release from LSI reports the controller supporting all six flash vendors, giving some serious flexibiltiy to makers of flash memory systems and products. Aside from a confirmation of the ability to drive newer flash memory types, the remainder of the specs appear largely the same, minus some additional tweaks to ECC necessary to support increased error rates encountered as dies shrink.

Full press release from LSI after the break:

A 7 year warranty on an SSD? Now we're talking enterprise class!

Subject: Storage | April 12, 2012 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: owc, Mercury Enterprise Pro 6G, sata 6Gbs, ssd, synchronous flash, LSI, sf-2582

The OWC Mercury Enterprise Pro 6G SSD comes in four sizes, 50GB, 100GB, 200GB and 400GB, with all models sharing the same impressive statistics.  Inside you will find Toshiba Enterprise Toggle Synchronous eMLC 24nm NAND and a new Sandforce controller from LSI, the SF-2582.  As well there is a proprietary power technology called Paratus to prevent data loss from power interruptions as well as capacitors designed to handle high heat.  SSD Review liked the performance, were impressed by the price and absolutely love the 7 year warranty, which is so far unique for SSDs.

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"OWC has jumped feet first into the Enterprise space with the new OWC Mercury Enterprise Pro 6G SSD. Leveraging one of the fastest controllers on the planet, the LSI SF-2582 in tandem with Toshibas Enterprise Toggle Synchronous eMLC NAND, this SSD promises the absolute best in long term performance and endurance. OWC is also throwing in an outstanding industry-leading 7 Year Warranty with this product."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

Check out LSI's Raid cards before the purchase of SandForce

Subject: Storage | October 31, 2011 - 02:55 PM |
Tagged: LSI, 9265-8i MegaRAID, Adaptec 6805, RAID Card, 6gbps

Many readers may have had their first introduction to LSI with the news that they had purchased SandForce and have never encountered their products.  Understandable as the bill the SSD Review had to face in order to test out the card was just short of $50,000, which is far more than even the most devoted enthusiast is going to pay.  In the realms of the server room however, that represents a fairly major investment but certainly within budget for a large upgrade.  The card its self is powered by the LSIISAS2208 dual-core 6Gb/s ROC-x2 800MHz PowerPC processor and can handle eight storage devices out of the box, for real space you will need to pick up an extender which will raise the total possible number of connected drives to 240.  Drop by the SSD Review to see the current leader of speedy reliable RAID cards; nothing even comes close to this monster.

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"The SSD Review has put together a 6Gbps ShowDown that we don't ever think can be matched. Total value of testing equipment exceeds $45,000 US. Top speeds come in at 2.7GB/s performance performance and over 461000 IOPS and we have absolutely pushed two RAID cards and 13 SSDs as far as we think they can be pushed. Grab a seat and buckle up because this is going to be our best ride yet, one you definitely won't be seeing attempted elsewhere anytime soon!"

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Storage

 

Source: SSD Review

SandForce jumps into bed with LSI, not OCZ

Subject: Storage | October 27, 2011 - 02:57 PM |
Tagged: LSI, sandforce, merger, purchase

LSI, known for their high quality RAID cards here at PC Perspective have just agreed to purchase our favourite designer of  SSD controllers, namely Sandforce.  The deal is for $322 million in cash, with another $48 million of unvested stock options and restricted shares also being picked up.  This deal makes an interesting pair of bedfellows, with Sandforce being well known by consumers but making few inroads into the server room or other corporate markets.  LSI is the opposite, with very few consumers running out and picking up a $700 SAS RAID controller while in the corporate environment they are a common purchase. 

The two markets are very different; consumers want both speed and affordability in a drive and are quite willing to sacrifice a little reliability to that end.  Corporate usage places reliability first, there is no point having incredibly fast storage medium if it is occasionally unreachable and so are willing to pay a high price for that reliability.  This purchase seems to be indicating that SandForce feels that there is a market for their controller in the corporate world, if they can overcome the reliability and MTBF of their SSD drives.  LSI can provide experience with that in spades, their testing methodology is capable of detecting and pinpointing flaws that a consumer would never notice but which a heavily loaded server might.  This might just see SandForce arrive as a controller in a server room near you.  Keep your eyes peeled for more information from Allyn.

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MILPITAS, Calif., October 26, 2011 – LSI Corporation (NYSE: LSI) today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire SandForce, Inc., the leading provider of flash storage processors for enterprise and client flash solutions and solid state drives (SSDs). Under the agreement, LSI will pay approximately $322 million in cash, net of cash assumed, and assume approximately $48 million of unvested stock options and restricted shares held by SandForce employees.
 
SandForce’s award-winning products include flash storage processors at the heart of PCIe flash adapters and SSDs. Flash storage processors provide the intelligence required to deliver the performance and low-latency benefits of flash storage in enterprise and client applications. With market-proven, differentiated DuraClass™ technology, SandForce flash storage processors improve the reliability, endurance and power efficiency of flash-based storage solutions.
 
The acquisition greatly enhances LSI's competitive position in the fast-growing server and storage PCIe flash adapter market, where the WarpDrive™ family of products from LSI already uses SandForce flash storage processors. The complementary combination of LSI’s custom capability and SandForce’s standard product offering propels LSI into an industry-leading position in the rapidly growing, high-volume flash storage processor market space for ultrabook, notebook and enterprise SSD and flash solutions.
 
“Flash-based solutions are critical for accelerating application performance in servers, storage and client devices,” said Abhi Talwalkar, LSI president and chief executive officer. “Adding SandForce’s technology to LSI’s broad storage portfolio is consistent with our mission to accelerate storage and networking. The acquisition represents a significant, rapidly growing market opportunity for LSI over the next several years.”
 
Michael Raam, SandForce president and CEO, said, “The combination of SandForce and LSI allows us to deliver differentiated solutions in the PCIe flash adapter segment by tightly integrating flash memory and management. In addition, leveraging our flash storage processors with LSI’s comprehensive IP portfolio and leading-edge silicon design platforms will lead to innovative solutions.”
 
The transaction is expected to close early in the first quarter of 2012 subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Upon closing, the SandForce team will become part of LSI’s newly formed Flash Components Division, with Raam as general manager.

Source: LSI