HDS adds disk-less controller

Posted on June 01, 2006

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By Ann Silverthorn

Hitachi Data Systems has begun shipments of a controller-only version of its Tagma-Store Network Storage Controller model NSC55, which allows midrange customers to take advantage of features such as virtualization without having to invest in more disk capacity. The NSC55 disk-less version retains the features of the original NSC55, but does not include disk drives.

Hitachi first announced the NSC55 rack-mount array in July 2005. The NSC55 was scaled down from the TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP). Previously, customers had to purchase at least one array in the NSC55, which can scale from 1.2TB to 72TB, but many users did not require extra capacity.

Because of inefficient management, storage capacity is often over-subscribed and under-utilized, according to Hitachi officials. Using the virtualization capabilities in the NSC55 controllers, companies can now leverage their existing resources, and as those arrays get older or capacity requirements increase they can add capacity to the NSC55. The older arrays can then be retained for use in a tiered storage architecture.

Hitachi claims that the NSC55 disk-less controller can manage up to 16 petabytes of externally attached heterogeneous storage.

The NSC55 is based on Hitachi’s Universal Star Network crossbar switch architecture, which provides the controller-based virtualization, logical partitioning, and universal replication found in the TagmaStore USP.

The NSC55 and NSC55 disk-less version include a multi-processor global cache disk controller that any server can access through the non-blocking crossbar switch. All servers can view the same cache image, but access can be load-balanced across multiple virtual host ports.

The crossbar switch allows multiple data-intensive applications to run concurrently. Switched internal networks separate cache and path resources for data and control information, which enables the controller to dynamically optimize storage resources. The NSC55 disk-less version is powered by 32 processors.

“The controller-only version will support all of the external storage that the Universal Storage Platform and Network Storage Controller currently support for virtualization,” says Claus Mikkelsen, chief scientist at Hitachi. “This includes all ranges of EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Sun, and Hitachi systems.”

The NSC55 disk-less controller costs $90,000 with 4GB of cache and eight ports and ranges up to $150,000 for a version with 64GB of cache and 48 ports.

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