IBM boosts NAS performance

Posted on December 01, 2002

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Midrange network-attached storage (NAS) got another performance kick when IBM recently announced support for Alacritech's 1000x1 Gigabit Ethernet Server and Storage Accelerator, also known as a TCP/IP offload engine (TOE), for its latest NAS devices.

New versions of IBM's TotalStorage NAS 200 and NAS Gateway 300 devices are increasing CIFS performance by 50% and NFS performance by 30% by using 2.4GHz Intel Xeon processors and integrating Alacritech's technology, according to IBM officials.

Alacritech's accelerator is based on the company's session-layer interface control (SLIC) technology, a data-path TCP/IP offload and acceleration technology. The technology enables data movement to be performed by the Internet Protocol Processor, an Alacritech-developed ASIC, while TCP/IP connection management and error handling are handled by host software.

The Alacritech accelerator is a PCI card that is an option for the IBM NAS 200 and NAS Gateway 300.

IBM is also improving performance by adding support for 2Gbps Fibre Channel. Meanwhile, capacity is also increasing as the NAS 200 uses 146.8GB hard drives to deliver up to 7TB. The NAS Gateway 300 can now scale to 22TB.

Pricing for the NAS 200 and NAS Gateway 300 begins at $17,295 and $63,100, respectively.

While NAS gateways—filer heads that hook up to back-end SAN arrays—have proven popular recently, one drawback has been their inability to connect to other vendors' arrays. However, IBM says its product will connect to any array.

"Technically, it will connect to lots of vendors' storage," explains David Vaughn, product manager of networked storage at IBM's storage systems group. However, each vendor must support the other's product, which does not often happen. Therefore, customers can be denied end-to-end support for their systems.

IBM is currently testing its gateway product with Hitachi Data Systems' arrays so that IBM can support Hitachi storage behind the gateway, says Vaughn. "We are willing to support any other vendor's storage behind the gateway if the company is willing to support it on their end."

The IBM-Hitachi testing should be complete by the end of the month, but IBM did not say when it would announce support for Hitachi's arrays.


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