Not logged in » Login
Oct 02 2018

Beyond the Limits: Fujitsu’s Latest-Generation Hybrid and All-Flash Storage Arrays


In our data-driven economy, success comes to organizations that manage to permanently deliver enough information to the right person at the right time, thus enabling employees to handle customer demands with assiduous and unremitting attention. Today, pretty much every company has subscribed to that philosophy. The problem is that oftentimes IT infrastructures are not up to the task – especially with regard to data retention and management. With our ETERNUS AF all-flash and ETERNUS DX hybrid storage systems, companies can escape that dilemma.

Once considered the unwieldy stepchildren of data center technology, storage systems have long since claimed their rightful place and are now sitting right beside servers at the top of the hierarchy. That's not much of a surprise; after all, application performance and service quality in any given data center largely depend on the transfer speeds/throughput and latency those systems are able to deliver. The increasing dependence on storage performance was foreseeable early on – which is why Fujitsu started building potent, easy-to-manage arrays long before cloud computing and related infrastructure projects made the headlines. Today, our arrays rank among the rare 'never-let-you-down' solutions that provide customers with enough oomph and a comprehensive set of intelligent data management functionalities at an affordable price.

Retaining that position wasn't exactly easy, since recent years have brought about a sea change in storage technologies: Less than a decade ago, most systems used some kind of high-performance or high-capacity HDDs as their core building blocks. Nowadays, they almost exclusively rely on flash-based, non-volatile components – i.e. SSDs – for storing 'hot' data, and nearly all enterprise applications have in one way or another been optimized to accommodate the new technology. By contrast, HDDs have more or less been relegated to deployments in nearline and/or high-capacity systems that serve as media libraries or backup targets. Despite this shift, however, most companies will have to employ both platforms, at least for the foreseeable future. Consequently, our ETERNUS AF and ETERNUS DX products cover the entire range of usage scenarios as well as the underlying business objectives.

First released in 2016, the ETERNUS AF arrays were designed to overcome potential shortcomings of existing storage platforms and make benefits of flash – higher density and speed, lower latency, greater reliability and lesser power consumption – available to large groups of users who previously thought flash storage was too expensive, not fit for the job at hand or both. ETERNUS AF models support a plethora of use cases, from VDI through real-time business analytics and large-scale database consolidation to Big Data and HPC scenarios.


Fig. 1: The ETERNUS AF650 S2 is the larger of two all-flash storage arrays offered by Fujitsu

ETERNUS AF systems are available in two editions: The ETERNUS AF250 S2 is the ideal choice for application scenarios with demanding data and performance requirements. With respective sequential and random read speeds of 760,000 and 430,000 IOPS and minimum latencies of 160 and 60 µs for read and write access, this array will resolve almost all pre-existing performance issues in critical Tier-1 applications even at full load, without any complicated tuning. In other words, it may be described as the perfect fit for general purpose retention of production data. Like its predecessor, the ETERNUS AF250 S2 is equipped with Intel multicore processors and optimized for 64-bit symmetric multiprocessing. Maximum system memory amounts to 64 GB RAM. Host interfaces and bandwidths vary – customers may opt for Gen5 fibre channel connections with a nominal throughput of 16 or 32 gigabits per second per direction or for iSCSI 10G (aka iSCSI over 10 GbE). The main difference, however, stems from a substantial capacity boost: We've doubled the number of disk drives to 48 and increased the maximum storage space per drive to 15.36 TB, effectively pushing the raw physical capacity per system to 737 TB max – more than 7 times the 'room' that was available at launch. The latest-gen configuration serves data to up to 1,024 hosts; holds up to 512 copy generations as well as 4,096 snapshots; and offers a multitude of advanced features, including compression, deduplication, Automated Storage Tiering, (Automated) QoS, support for storage clusters, synchronous and asynchronous remote copy, support for 6 different RAID levels, RAID migration, and options for security management and non-disruptive maintenance. In short, it brings enterprise-class storage functionality to small and mid-sized companies.

While building on the same technologies, the ETERNUS AF650 S2 comes across as the more mature cousin: The processors are identical, but everything else is (much) bigger, starting with the available system memory of up to 512 GB and a maximum number of 192 drives. Read and write latencies are the same as in the smaller system, but read speeds are up to 2.56 million IOPS in sequential and 810,000 IOPS in random mode. Raw physical capacity maxes out at 2.95 PB when equipped with the 15-TB drive type named above; that leaves ample room for hot data of up to 4,096 hosts and up to 8,192 snapshots. The ETERNUS AF650 S2 provides IT teams with the same advanced management capabilities as its counterpart, with an extra focus being put on high-availability and disaster recovery functions. The All-in FlashPack management software covering configuration, administration, Local and Remote Copy, Automated QoS, etc. is included with both the ETERNUS AF250 S2 and AF650 S2 at no extra cost.

FUJITSU Storage ETERNUS DX500 and DX600
The concept of a flexible, business-centric platform also informs the design of our hybrid storage products, better known as ETERNUS DX series. More specifically, the idea was to build a family of arrays that use the same architecture and seamlessly scale upward as business demands increase. ETERNUS DX systems are now available in their fourth incarnation; today we will look at the 'twin brothers' ETERNUS DX500 S4 and ETERNUS DX600 S4, which take on the role of the midrange systems. Like their various cousins, they were developed to tackle a number of key data management and data protection challenges that are basically identical across the board, regardless of company size or industry. The issues at hand include

  • Unplanned/unexpected data growth
  • Data leakage and unauthorized access
  • Business continuity and data availability
  • Support for new business capabilities and services
  • Efficiency


Fig. 2: The ETERNUS DX500 S4 hybrid storage system handles multiple heavy tasks – from large-scale database consolidation right through to business analytics – within one system

Like all of our storage products, these hybrid systems combine leading-edge performance with a host of management capabilities that help ensure maximum utilization at the best cost/performance ratio. As a first step in that direction, they may be fitted with a mixed configuration of disks – namely, SAS and nearline SAS HDDs along with SSDs – in order to balance performance and costs while optimally utilizing data center space. Moreover, the built-in advanced features are virtually identical with those found in the all-flash arrays, ranging from compression and deduplication (both for block storage) through QoS and remote copy capabilities to thin provisioning and disk- or controller-based encryption. With both systems providing identical functions, the differences must reside in the hardware, as shown in the table below.



Processor: 6-core Intel® Xeon®, 2.6 GHz

Processor: 10-core Intel® Xeon®, 2.4 GHz

Max. capacity with SSDs: 8.1 TB

Max. capacity with SSDs: 16.2 TB

Max. capacity with HDD: 6.3 TB

Max. capacity with HDD: 12.7 TB

Max. number of drives: 528

Max. number of drives: 1,056

Max. system memory: 256 GB

Max. system memory: 512 GB

Both models are equipped with two storage controllers and use PCIe 3.0 as internal bus and SAS-3 for connecting to HDDs and SSDs in the drive enclosure, allowing for maximum data transfer speeds of 12 Gbit/s. That's already sufficient for many use cases; however, depending on the individual task at hand, users may be looking for an extra throttle to further enhance system performance. To help them meet these higher standards, both midrange systems offer a pair of optional 'accelerators' called Extreme Cache (EC) and Extreme Cache Pool (ECP). Both consist of an extra layer of SSDs with PCIe connectors that are built into the storage controller(s) and can hold up to 5.6 (EC) or 3.2 (ECP) of data at once. Thanks to this setup, cache hit rates will improve dramatically, resulting in faster processing and response times, as applications no longer have to wait until slower HDDs or SSDs respond to their queries. The result are massive gains in I/O performance, bandwidth and bus performance; a model configuration of the ETERNUS DX600 S4 equipped with 44 drives and physical storage capacity of 17.6 TB produced 560,037 IOPS during SPC-1 benchmark tests earlier in the year, with IOPS and overall response times clocking in at less than 0.5 and less than 0.3 ms, respectively. Put another way, both systems have enough power to handle multiple arduous and complicated tasks such as large-scale database consolidation, desktop or server virtualization, and business analytics – all within one system.

Future Prospects
As per usual, we are constantly working to improve both our all-flash and hybrid storage platforms. In one of our next steps, we will integrate 30 TB SSDs – currently the biggest in the market – in order to further boost capacities and I/O performance. Fujitsu customers will thus capitalize from the two main trends that dominate the storage market, namely the rise in flash capacities and a decline in flash prices. At the same time, we're launching an enterprise storage system that will use NVMe technology as Extreme Cache and feature prominently at the Fujitsu Forum Europe in November in Munich!

Elisabeth Babelotzky


About the Author:

Elisabeth Babelotzky

Global Product Marketing Storage


Comments on this article

No comments yet.

Please Login to leave a comment.


Please login

Please log in with your Fujitsu Partner Account.


» Forgot password

Register now

If you do not have a Fujitsu Partner Account, please register for a new account.

» Register now