New HP 3PAR StoreServ AFA, VMware VVols and some thoughts

This posting is ~7 years years old. You should keep this in mind. IT is a short living business. This information might be outdated.

On the HP Discover in June 2013 (I wrote 2014, sorry for that typo). HP has announced the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 All-Flash Array. To optimize the StoreServ platform for all-flash workloads, HP made some changes to the hardware of the nodes. The 7450 uses 8-core Intel Xeon CPUs instead 6-core 1.8 Ghz CPUs, the cache was doubled from 64GB to 128GB and they added some changes to the 3PAR OS: HP added additional cache flush queues to separate the flushing of cache for rotating rust and SSD devices. They also made some write I/O optimizations and added the ability to perform fragmented writes. Instead of writing 16 KB blocks, 3PAR OS is now able to write only 4 KB of a 16 KB block. This software-based changes may be used also on the 7200 and 7400. This leads to the new…

HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 All-Flash Array

HP has now announced the next StoreServ All-Flash Array: The HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 All-Flash Array which is nothing else then a 7200 with 8x 480 GB cMLC drives. The 8 drives result in a raw capacity of ~ 3,5 TB (8 drives are at least necessary to create a CPG). The HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 All-Flash Array is available for 35.000 US-$ (currently ~ 26.400 €). An interesting price if you consider, that a StoreServ 7200 with 8x 480 GB cMLC drives, no additional support or software has a list price of ~ 60.000 € or ~ 80.000 US-$. On the other side, the 7200 hardware wasn’t optimized for all-flash workloads, so the cache and CPUs are the same.

Some thoughts

HP states that you can achieve 7 TB usable space with only 3,5 TB raw space. First thought: WTF?! Second thought: Oh, there’s an asterisk behind the statement.

Usable capacity calculations based on 25% overhead and 4:1 compaction ratio.

My thoughts about that: First, it doesn’t match the “3,5 TB raw == 7 TB usable” quote. Later in the text HP writes

…you can scale the solution to 690 TB usable and 230 TB raw with our Thin Deduplication software.

Short calculation (230 x 0,75) x 4 = 690. That fits! It seems that HP is more conservative in perspective of the usable capacity on the 7200 AFA, if you take the “3,5 TB raw == 7 TB usable” quote into account (~ 2,5:1). Second, Thin Deduplication on the 7200? Currently HP speaks of it only in connection with the 7450 (Source 1, Source 2) You maybe know, that the Gen4 ASICs are used for Thin Deduplication. The 7200 and 7400 also use the Gen4 ASICs, so there is no constraint why Thin Deduplication shouldn’t work in the 7200 and 7400. I assume that HP will announce Thin Deduplication later for the 7200 and 7400. However, it has been mentioned only in connection with StoreServ AFA. I also think that the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 All-Flash Array is an attack on EMC XtremIO and Pure Storage. I will not comment the statement, that the new 7200 AFA is 50% cheaper then EMC XtremIO or Pure Storage:

Based on comparison of US list prices for the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7200 All-Flash Starter Kit and EMC XtremIO with 5TB of raw capacity and Pure Storage FA-405 entry-level configuration with 2.75TB raw capacity.

Finally I’m glad that HP has announced the 7200 AFA, especially for that price. HP 3PAR StoreServ is an awesome storage and I’m sure that it does not have to hide.

VMware VVols

HP has also announced that HP 3PAR StoreServ is ready for VMwares new storage architecture, Virtual Volume (VVols), which is currently tested in the VMware vSphere beta. VMware VVols will revolutionize the way how storage in VMware vSphere is treated by offering VM-level storage control, snapshots and quality of service. The support for VMware VVols will be available with the next release of HP 3PAR OS.

This video was released in 2012 by Calvin Zito and shows you a demo of VMware VVols with 3PAR StoreServ storage.

It is good to see how VMware and HP work together to get this great new technology ready for production.

Patrick Terlisten
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