Seagate revamps enterprise storage lineup


— 7:00 AM on March 15, 2011

In what is being called the biggest enterprise launch in company history, Seagate is releasing details on four new storage products designed for the server crowd. The drives are part of a new approach to enterprise storage that segments models into tiers optimized for performance, capacity, and a balance of those two attributes.

For the performance market, Seagate is rolling out a line of fresh Pulsar solid-state drives based on a proprietary controller and firmware crafted in conjunction with system-on-chip design firm LAMD. This controller typically uses 16 memory channels but can tap 32 channels in certain configurations. Separate DRAM silicon serves as a read/write cache, and there's a measure of protection against data loss in the event of a power failure. Samsung supplies the flash, which has been custom-tuned for Seagate and won't be sold to other customers. The chips are Toggle DDR NAND built on a 3x-nano fabrication process.

While the Pulsar XT.2 sticks with the SLC memory common among enterprise-class SSDs, the Pulsar.2 uses less expensive MLC chips. With lower prices comes less endurance, though. Seagate says the XT can write 25,000 TB of data in its lifetime, while the standard Pulsar.2 will burn out after 15,000 TB. The XT will also be the faster of the two drives. Performance specifications aren't available for the Pulsar.2, which is still being optimized. However, the XT is slated to hit sequential read and write speeds of 360 and 300MB/s, respectively. You can expect the drive to push 48,000 random-read and 22,000 random-write IOps.

Seagate is adamant that those performance figures will be consistent for every I/O request. Consistency is particularly important for datacenters, the company says, and solid-state drives are infamous for performance characteristics that change over time.

The Pulsar.2 will be available with 6Gbps Serial ATA and Serial Attached SCSI interfaces, while the XT will be equipped with latter. Both models are expected to ship in volume in the second quarter of this year. When they arrive, they'll be packing the same AES-256 encryption technology used in Seagate's mechanical hard drives.

Speaking of traditional hard drives, a couple of updated 2.5" Savvios are poised to join the new Pulsars. Seagate sees these mechanical offerings as complimentary products for folks who want to balance performance, capacity, and cost. The Savvio 15K.3 offers a 15k-RPM spindle speed and up to 300GB of total capacity. If you want a little more storage, the Savvio 10K.5 knocks the spindle speed down to 10k-RPM but ups the top capacity to 900GB. Both newcomers offer double the storage capacity of their immediate predecessors and higher MTBF ratings. They've got 6Gbps SAS interaces, too, and the 10K.5 can be configured with a 4Gb/s fiber-channel interface.

Even the highest-capacity Savvio falls short of the terabyte mark, which is why the Constellation ES.2 exists. This is the only 3.5" model in the new enterprise lineup, and Seagate has put the larger casing to good use. The Constallation offers 3TB of storage spinning at 7,200 RPM. If you prefer your gigabytes in a 2.5" form factor, Seagate has a mini Constellation model available in capacities up to 1TB.

The Constellation ES.2 includes an interesting RAID rebuild technology that evaluates whether any of a failed drive's heads are usable and then tries to extract data using only those heads. Seagate also has a PowerChoice utility that lets users tweak the Constellation's power-saving functionality, the amount of time the drive waits before slipping into its various idle states. The Constellation is expected to hit the market in 6Gbps SATA and SAS flavors later this month. We should see the new Savvios tip up not long after its arrival.

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