PDA

View Full Version : SATA Based XServe RAID Prototype Uncovered




MacRumors
Jan 19, 2007, 01:28 PM
http://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com)

A reader of AppleInsider has unleashed pictures of an unreleased prototype (http://www.appleinsider.com/article.php?id=2422) of Apple's XServe RAID. While externally the new prototype looks much the same as the existing model, the prototype was configued with SATA drives (rather than the current XServe RAID's UltraATA (http://www.apple.com/xserve/raid/specs.html) bus), and had 6 Fibre Channel ports (up from the current version's 2).

While the admin software (listed at version 2.0, up from 1.5 in the current model) was mostly disabled, AppleInsider muses that the additional ports may be for more flexible drive access.

On the currently shipping Xserve RAID, when one Xserve is connected to both ports it has access to all 14 drives. When two Xserves are connected (one to each port), both have access to 7 of the drives. It's likely that newer RAID Admin software will allow arbitrary assignment of drives to any of six connected Xserves. It is also possible that these newer Xserves RAIDs have an integrated 6-port fibre channel switch. This won't be known until an actual release of the hardware when new firmware and admin software is available.



Markleshark
Jan 19, 2007, 01:32 PM
mmmm, speed!

Can't believe something like that escaped the HQ tho. :eek:

eenu
Jan 19, 2007, 01:34 PM
mmmm, speed!

Can't believe something like that escaped the HQ tho. :eek:

Yeah i smell a bit of BS to be honest!

Markleshark
Jan 19, 2007, 01:41 PM
Yeah i smell a bit of BS to be honest!

Really? Fracking™ Impressive if it is.

e12a
Jan 19, 2007, 01:41 PM
I guess they're not getting rid of the aluminum casings yet..

eenu
Jan 19, 2007, 01:43 PM
Really? Fracking™ Impressive if it is.

Why so?

Electric Boris
Jan 19, 2007, 01:47 PM
I suspect someone will be dead by the end of the day.

guzhogi
Jan 19, 2007, 01:49 PM
I'll agree, this sounds like a BS thing. I can't believe this got out of Apple's control.

As for the SATA, it's about time! Computers have been using SATA for years now. Something I'd like to see them add is Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The xServe has it. Either way, the new drive connector is gonna make it a lot faster! I work in an elementary school district and I think a few of the schools use them to store student accounts. It might help speed up speed up log in time.

iJawn108
Jan 19, 2007, 02:02 PM
'... one more thing, the Apple Home Serve" *hopes*

bigandy
Jan 19, 2007, 02:06 PM
'... one more thing, the Apple Home Serve" *hopes*

yours for only $10k.

:rolleyes:

I hope this rolls out sooner rather than later, as several people i know are wanting to buy sata ones along with their new xserve purchases - they're holding off for them...

guzhogi
Jan 19, 2007, 02:28 PM
yours for only $10k.

:rolleyes:

I hope this rolls out sooner rather than later, as several people i know are wanting to buy sata ones along with their new xserve purchases - they're holding off for them...

One benefit of working in a school (or government or having a select/premier ADC membership) is you get a discount on hardware. Unfortunately w/ the xServe RAID, it's still pretty expensive.

Clive At Five
Jan 19, 2007, 02:28 PM
*whispers*

zoom zoom.

-Clive

Voidness
Jan 19, 2007, 02:43 PM
ok AppleInsider, we need more leaks like this one, but for more appealing products :p

BlueRevolution
Jan 19, 2007, 03:04 PM
I'm inclined to say this is genuine. I mean, who does an elaborite photoshop job on Xserves? It is indeed interesting that it should be possible to have these leaked, but I doubt that Apple maintains as tight security on their server lines, since it is more likely to be ignored by the rumour sites and the Apple fanboys as a whole. I mean, can you see a keynote devoted to this?

Elektronkind
Jan 19, 2007, 03:39 PM
I'd say it would make sence, as the rumored features indicating that the Xserve RAID being positioned with the rest of the mid-range storage market's common feature sets.

One additional wondering I have regarding this is if the new Xserve RAID's two controllers would be redundant instead of completely separate as they are now.

/dale

VideoTour
Jan 19, 2007, 04:06 PM
I've actually been bugging my Apple gov. sales rep about when 750GB UltraATA Apple Drive Modules would be coming out, since I'm in the market for a second XServe RAID and don't want to buy 500GB drives only to find 750s on the market the next day.
What I've been getting for answers has been "delaying."
Maybe this is why.. moving away from the UltraATA to SATA for the arrays entirely.

Imagine... a fully loaded XServe RAID with 750GB drives
(let's see, hmmm, 14 times .75 ... that's 10.5TB. And that's "almost" enough:cool: )

Unheard of (or prohibitively expensive) for a desktop configuration 5 years ago.. and probably a laughable storage capacity 5 years from now.
But right now it still has that Wow factor. And for probably little more than about $14k!

Counterfit
Jan 19, 2007, 04:27 PM
I'll agree, this sounds like a BS thing. I can't believe this got out of Apple's control.

As for the SATA, it's about time! Computers have been using SATA for years now. Something I'd like to see them add is Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The xServe has it. Either way, the new drive connector is gonna make it a lot faster! I work in an elementary school district and I think a few of the schools use them to store student accounts. It might help speed up speed up log in time.

The drive connector isn't going to make it any faster, as that's not the slowest part. It's still the drive mechanism itself that's holding everything back.

Nicky G
Jan 19, 2007, 04:45 PM
I sell a lot of Xserve RAIDs to my clientele, so I'm quite familiar with the unit. My first thought was, these pics looks fake -- that little bank of SFP ports just looks a little "off".

But if we're wishing, I wish the next Xserve RAID will have:

• SATA drive modules

• dual controllers w/ active-active failover

• 4Gbit fibre channel

A built-in fibre channel switch is not too interesting to me, as the new(ish) QLogic 1400-series of switches is perfect for smaller fibre chanel setups. However, redundant fibre channel ports would be nice -- and if the ports can be trunked, well, that would be a very useful reason to have a whole bunch of them on the backplane... Hmmm....

Elektronkind
Jan 19, 2007, 05:19 PM
However, redundant fibre channel ports would be nice -- and if the ports can be trunked, well, that would be a very useful reason to have a whole bunch of them on the backplane... Hmmm....

You're talking about multipath support. It would be really stupid to provide all those ports and not allow LUNs to be advertised out of 2 or more of them.

/dale

abrooks
Jan 19, 2007, 06:18 PM
My first thought was, these pics looks fake -- that little bank of SFP ports just looks a little "off".


I'm inclined to agree, the rest of the images seem quite bonafide but the 5th image down (close up of back plane) just seems completely wrong.

Nicky G
Jan 19, 2007, 06:34 PM
You're talking about multipath support. It would be really stupid to provide all those ports and not allow LUNs to be advertised out of 2 or more of them.

/dale

Xsan multipathing doesn't offer increased bandwidth, though -- as of right now, at least (I'm pretty sure 1.4's multipathing is really just for failover, not extra performance).

You're right in Baltimore? You probably know about Chesapeake Systems I'm guessing?


Nick

kalisphoenix
Jan 19, 2007, 06:42 PM
Am I the only person who sees SATA and thinks, "Great... now I have another dimension of compatibility I have to meet whenever buying a new component"?

twoodcc
Jan 19, 2007, 06:47 PM
mmmm, speed!


yeah....sounds nice :)....we'll see....

081440
Jan 19, 2007, 07:07 PM
Nice, but I mean haven't we seen this one coming from a mile away... SATA is nothing new.

If Apple offers 10,000 rpm drives in there then it would be really impressive along with the price tag....

That one pic of the back does look a little fishy... I mean the ethernet port it crystal clear but the six fibre channel connections are not...

combatcolin
Jan 19, 2007, 07:13 PM
I though the Xserve was SATA already.

Strange, you imagine that servers would be very much ahead of the general computing spec.

guzhogi
Jan 19, 2007, 07:58 PM
Nice, but I mean haven't we seen this one coming from a mile away... SATA is nothing new.

If Apple offers 10,000 rpm drives in there then it would be really impressive along with the price tag....


Apple sells 15,000 rpm SAS drives in its xServes. I wonder how much of a difference that makes in terms of sustained throughput. I remember SAS gets about Gbps bandwidth, but what is it like in real life? Especially if it was put in a RAID setup.

AidenShaw
Jan 19, 2007, 08:34 PM
The drive connector isn't going to make it any faster, as that's not the slowest part. It's still the drive mechanism itself that's holding everything back.
Except that the drive connector spec also supports NCQ - that can be a sizeable performance boost when the drive is busy (like the multi-threaded server load that the poster mentioned).

khafaga
Jan 19, 2007, 08:45 PM
It's gonna be 14X1TB ADM not 10.5TB. We will purcahse one with Apple xSAN. Hope that it has the same price of the ATA xServe RAID.

ChrisA
Jan 19, 2007, 11:11 PM
Apple sells 15,000 rpm SAS drives in its xServes. I wonder how much of a difference that makes in terms of sustained throughput. I remember SAS gets about Gbps bandwidth, but what is it like in real life? Especially if it was put in a RAID setup.

I don't know about Apple's specs but typically you can buy arbitrary performance with one of these kinds of arrays. You don't even need really fast drives because you can add drives and they run in parallel.

I suspect Apple is using six fiber channels so that they can support a "cluster" of servers. Remember ZFS is coming with Leopard. I imagine this new array will be released for use with Leopard, ZFS and all.

As for performance, the limit can be the interface to the desktop. But if that is a gigabit ethernet it's reasonably fast

pengu
Jan 20, 2007, 12:05 AM
I don't know about Apple's specs but typically you can buy arbitrary performance with one of these kinds of arrays.

Exactly. While i support the move (if its real) to SATA/SAS (assuming they can be mix/matched with regular xserves) RAID is not about a heap of expensive disks.

RAID originally stood for redundant array of inexpensive disks

in this type of device, you are likely using either RAID5, RAID10 or RAID50, all of which have redundancy by design. its about using the same cheap (ie: ultra ata instead of scsi) components but getting better results by design.

Counterfit
Jan 20, 2007, 06:03 AM
Except that the drive connector spec also supports NCQ - that can be a sizeable performance boost when the drive is busy (like the multi-threaded server load that the poster mentioned).

I didn't know that was connector dependent. It's about time this became prevalent though, as it seems the PATA implementation of the concept sucks balls. (the ATA bus has to look like an ISA bus to the OS? wonderful. :rolleyes: )

I wonder if this could be passed through a FW800 connection, as it would make it possible for me to run Azureus and VLC at the same time...

pengu
Jan 20, 2007, 06:37 AM
I didn't know that was connector dependent. It's about time this became prevalent though, as it seems the PATA implementation of the concept sucks balls. (the ATA bus has to look like an ISA bus to the OS? wonderful. :rolleyes: )

I wonder if this could be passed through a FW800 connection, as it would make it possible for me to run Azureus and VLC at the same time...

um.. im sorry but what the hell does an enterprise raid array have to do with your video pilfering and watching?

AidenShaw
Jan 20, 2007, 07:56 AM
I wonder if this could be passed through a FW800 connection, as it would make it possible for me to run Azureus and VLC at the same time...
NCQ (Native Command Queuing) is only really of benefit under heavy load - when the disk is not keeping up with the OS requests for data, and a queue of requests exists.

Unless you're downloading over a terabit link, and watching uncompressed HD 1080p on multiple screens - it's unlikely that NCQ will do anything for you.

iomar
Jan 20, 2007, 08:49 AM
Wow, looks pretty cool. I am getting this for my network!

MacsRgr8
Jan 20, 2007, 10:01 AM
Wow, looks pretty cool. I am getting this for my network!

@ home?? :cool:
:D

Good news, but nowhere near earth shattering... expected this far sooner, didn't you?
I expect a quiet update on the AppleStore soon.

A hardware RAID card for the Xserve Xeon is more anticipated IMHO.

BenRoethig
Jan 20, 2007, 10:07 AM
'... one more thing, the Apple Home Serve" *hopes*

An entry level single socket 3000 series server would be nice.

AidenShaw
Jan 20, 2007, 10:46 AM
An entry level single socket 3000 series server would be nice.

Or a quad-core mini-tower... :cool:

Did you see the Windows Home Server based system that HP announced at CES?

http://h71036.www7.hp.com/hho/images/B1server.jpg

http://h71036.www7.hp.com/hho/cache/447351-0-0-225-121.html

Four internal hot-swap drives, headless (put it in a closet, manage remotely), ...

Rocketman
Jan 20, 2007, 11:53 AM
In reading the replies at Appleinsider one poster referred to an expected bandwidth of 6 or 12 gigabytes per second (integrated fibre channel switch inside Apple's upcoming RAID). That seems fast enough to capture the upcoming 4K RED camera raw content, even at the higher 60 and 120 frames per second.

Storage hardware might be catching up to capture hardware. Just barely. I hope there are not two or more cameras on that shoot!

So if RED and other similar camers simply had a utility to act as the computer and save directly to a RAID, no computer would be needed!

Rocketman

birdsong
Jan 20, 2007, 12:07 PM
I'll agree, this sounds like a BS thing. I can't believe this got out of Apple's control.

As for the SATA, it's about time! Computers have been using SATA for years now. Something I'd like to see them add is Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). The xServe has it. Either way, the new drive connector is gonna make it a lot faster! I work in an elementary school district and I think a few of the schools use them to store student accounts. It might help speed up speed up log in time.

Doubtful. You're not pushing a hard drive to do authentication.

LimaAlpha
Jan 20, 2007, 01:30 PM
Someone's gonna be in big trouble... if you violate NDAs and confidentiality
agreements, remember to "file off the serial numbers"

Counterfit
Jan 20, 2007, 02:39 PM
NCQ (Native Command Queuing) is only really of benefit under heavy load - when the disk is not keeping up with the OS requests for data, and a queue of requests exists.

Unless you're downloading over a terabit link, and watching uncompressed HD 1080p on multiple screens - it's unlikely that NCQ will do anything for you.

Awww :(

Waragainstsleep
Jan 20, 2007, 04:46 PM
The drives in the Intel Xserve are mix and match, SATA and SCSI. It has a two-for-one SATA/SAS controller bolted to the Intel I/O controller. Seems fair to assume the RAID will also do both.
Regarding 750GB ADMs, Apple's official line is that they haven't approved (they tend to use the word rated actually) the 750s for use in the current RAID.
I have always thought it makes more sense to buy the smallest possible drive modules from Apple, then swap the disks with your own choice. Apple claims to test their ADMs thoroughly, and this should mean they are more reliable, but they still fail, so I reckon buying a stack of off the shelf Seagate drives is a better bet. That way you get a 5 year warranty, and its still probably cheaper than buying big ADMs from Apple. Plus Apple drives are odd sizes, so you have to get a replacement from them, even when the warranty runs out in order to rebuild your array.

For example, Apple will sell you a 7TB (14x500GB) for $13000.
If you instead buy the 1TB (4x250GB) and 10 extra 250GB ADMs, then get 16 750GB Seagate drives at $300 each, it totals less than $16000. You have 2 spare drives, and 5 year warranties on all 10.5TB.

MrCrowbar
Jan 20, 2007, 09:21 PM
Can it hook up wirelessly to the :apple: TV?

sorry, had to post that. Besides, the new :apple: smiley is sweet.

:apple: :apple: :apple: :apple: :apple: :apple: :apple: :p

ClimbingTheLog
Jan 20, 2007, 09:30 PM
I used to use alot of XServe RAID hardware - before eSATA became standardized and cheap.

It's still a nice box, granted, but for the price, everybody I work with would rather spend less than half the money and go eSATA. Even a set of multilane enclosures only brings the cost up to half the cost of XServe RAID.

Are these things selling well? Certainly if you're on a switched fibre channel network, they're well priced, but for single host storage they've been obsoleted in at least some markets. And I've only ever seen them hooked up to one XServe or linux box or maybe two, each half operating independently. Does anybody here actually use them in fibre channel installations (our friend from Baltimore, perhaps?)

AidenShaw
Jan 21, 2007, 10:53 AM
Does anybody here actually use them in fibre channel installations (our friend from Baltimore, perhaps?)
We have a dozen or so, along with hundreds of real arrays from EMC (Symettrix, Clariion), HP, Fujitsu, IBM, HDS and others.

The Apple RAIDs are basically toys (e.g. no RAID-6, max 7 disks per LUN) compared to enterprise arrays (priced like toys as well, fortunately). The failure rate is pretty high, and the tools fairly primitive (compared to the others).

We don't put data that we depend upon on the Apple RAIDs, they're only for test&dev and other jobs where losing the entire array is only an inconvenience. If you need lots of TB for testing, the Apple RAID is a good deal.

Nicky G
Jan 21, 2007, 11:59 AM
IMHO, and it's totally my own opinion and not that of my employer or anyone else, yadda yadda...

Xserve RAID is mostly for the creative market, esp. video capture, and more or less made to work very easily w/ Xsan. I sell a good number of Xserve RAIDs as direct-attached storage for video editing rigs, but a lot of the ones we sell are for Xsan installations. With Xsan, the bandwidth of an individual RAID no longer is much of a limiter (within limits), as you can simply add LUNs from multiple RAIDs together into high-performance storage pools.

The price of these kinds of setups is very modest compared to "real" enterprise solutions. Xsans are also plenty stable, so long as the users don't do anything really dumb like updating the version of Xsan on a client, before the MDCs (Metadata Controllers). BIG NO NO! :-O

aafuss1
Jan 23, 2007, 04:38 PM
Looks like the Xserve RAID has been updated to 10.5 terabytes, but no SATA-according to Macworld:
http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/01/23/xserve/index.php