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SGI Targets Mid-Market With New Storage Play

SGI, the company formed when Rackable Systems purchased what was left of bankrupt Silicon Graphics and then adopted its name, plans to introduce a new high-density storage system for midrange customers to meet both high throughput and high performance needs.

Before its purchase by Rackable in April, SGI (NASDAQ: SGI) had a small storage business that account for between 10 percent to 20 percent of its sales volume. So storage was a part of its business but not a major part. SGI hopes to beef up that business with this lower-cost offering aimed at a broader market.

The SGI InfiniteStorage 6120 fits up to 60 drives into its 4U enclosure, capable of holding 60TB of total storage, and two units can be married into a single storage bay for 120TB of total storage, according to Floyd Christofferson, senior product marketing manager for storage at SGI.

The enclosure can hold a mix of drives and interfaces. They can handle slower, 7,200 RPM SATA drives, fast 15,000 RPM serial-attached SCSI (SAS) and solid state drives (SSD), which also use the SATA interface. All told, that can give a maximum of 31,000 I/O Operations Per Second (IOPS).

Advantage of a tiered environment

"That's one of the key features of this, so you can set up a tiered environment for mixed workflow," Christofferson told InternetNews.com. The only SSDs being supported initially are 32GB and 64GB SLC drives at first, specifically Intel's SSD drives. SGI said it will continue to qualify and expand the selection over time.

The array features 8Gbit Fibre Channel connectivity on the back-end now and should have InfiniBand connectivity by the end of the year. None of it is proprietary SGI stew, like its interconnect architecture, it's all industry standard interfaces, no special SGI file system needed. It will work with any servers or operating system.

Available features include both RAID 5 and RAID 6 options, journaled fast drive rebuild for rapid recovery and Active/Active storage managers with failover. They support block-level virtualization and all popular hypervisors.

The InfiniteStorage 6120 was built in partnership with DataDirect Networks and features DataDirect's SATAssure Intelligent SATA Drive Management. This is a "Self Healing" function that makes large SATA pools reliable by monitoring the drives constantly for silent data corruption and fixes them, protects against double disk failures in each tier and attempts multiple levels of drive recovery before declaring the drive has failed.

This allows for using many drives reliably in a pool as well as the mixing of SATA and SAS. This will allow customers to deploy both high throughput and high IOPS applications. A high throughput app means a large volume of large, sequential files, like streaming video. High IOPS means a lot of smaller files and random access.

The two are inherently different and often require two different storage systems, but SGI believes it has an all-in-one solution.

"Being able to do SSD, SAS and SATA in the same system with mixed I/O gives a mix of host interfaces," said Christofferson. "What these types of very dense solutions provide is a significant reduction in overall cost and space within the datacenter."