3PAR unveiled two additions to its midrange family of storage arrays at the Storage Networking World conference today, including a quad-controller Fibre Channel system priced for midrange storage environments.

Vice president of marketing Craig Nunes claims the InServ F-Class – which consists of the F200 and the quad-controller F400 – challenges architectural assumptions about midrange storage arrays.

“The F-Class is the first four-controller Fibre Channel array in the midrange and proves that a midrange array doesn’t have to stop at two controllers,” says Nunes.

The InServ F-Class arrays are based on the same clustered architecture and InForm operating system as 3PAR’s high-end T-Class arrays and offer all of the same virtualization, thin provisioning and data management tools.

The F-Class arrays feature a “Mesh-Active” controller architecture, which allows each LUN to be active on every controller in the array, in contrast to traditional active-active configurations that limit each LUN to one controller in the array.

The new systems run 3PAR’s Gen3 ASIC with the company’s “Thin Built In” hardware-based implementation of thin provisioning technology in each controller node. The ASICs give the F-Class arrays hardware-based zero-detection for wire-speed fat-to-thin volume conversions.

3PAR’s Virtual Domains technology is also available on the F-Class. Virtual Domains software essentially operates as a storage hypervisor that allows users to carve the F-Class into virtual arrays, each with secure management domains for different departments or user groups.

An entry-level F200 with 16 146GB, 15,000rpm Fibre Channel drives start at $80,000. The quad-controller-capable F400 starts at approximately $86,000 with two controllers.

Nunes anticipates the F-Class to create some overlap in 3PAR’s product line as the F200 will replace the existing E200 model, while the F400 is positioned between the F200 and the high-end T400.

Nunes says the T-Class controller is “beefier” from a performance standpoint with support for more cache memory and host connectivity. However, the F400 could encroach upon the T-Class’s territory.

“There will absolutely be some cannibalization of the T400, but it’s better for customers if we have a little product overlap rather than a gap,” Nunes says.

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