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Mar 19 2014

Fujitsu ETERNUS DX S3: Storage at the Speed of Sound (Part 2 of 3)


More data, faster access, smarter applications, changing delivery models, increased use of business analytics – the challenges storage systems must meet have exploded over the past ten years. Many 'classic' arrays can no longer fulfill these demands or require massive workarounds to function properly. To solve these problems, Fujitsu's engineers introduced a new "performance architecture" with our third-generation ETERNUS DX storage systems. Today's article is the second installment in a three-piece mini-series about the new technology.

Faster Pumps and Bigger Pipes
As outlined in the first part of our series, modern storage systems rarely, if ever, suffer from capacity limitations. But even if they can easily scale up to petabyte levels, one crucial question remains – what good are these systems if they don't deliver the I/O capabilities, transfer rates and bandwidths needed to process such enormous amounts of information in a reasonable time span?

To tackle these issues, Fujitsu has developed the new "performance architecture" for ETERNUS DX arrays. The goal was to eliminate existing speed restrictions and multiply I/O and bus performance as well as bandwidth. The guiding principle here was to build faster pumps into bigger pipes – or technically speaking, use more powerful processors, extend and improve cache technologies, and accelerate drive interface and internal bus speeds. Here's how the improvements work in detail:

  • Processors: Many storage systems are equipped with comparatively weak processors so they may be sold at an attractive price point. The problem with this approach is that these CPUs do not offer the functionalities customers expect from their modern arrays. By contrast, the ETERNUS DX S3 family uses Intel Xeon CPUs that provide more punch and a richer feature set. The most important among these features is symmetric multiprocessing, a technology that allows for multiple processor cores to be controlled by one operating system. Combined with the latest 64-bit operating systems and their larger address spaces, it offers many benefits, such as better utilization of memory resources, increased core efficiency ratios through flexible sorting of required transactions, and self-optimizing workload distribution through unbinding resources from cores.
  • Cache technologies: Improvements in this area include the expansion of native DRAM caches as well as introducing a new category of "Extreme Caches" for midrange systems. The latter basically 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 TB (!) of data at once. Thanks to this setup, cache hit rates can be substantially improved, resulting in faster processing as applications no longer have to wait until slower HDDs or SSDs respond to their queries. As a welcome side effect, the Extreme Cache also helps to reduce the number of drives that have to be built into a system, which in turn leads to cuts in power consumption and hence operating costs.
  • Drive interface and bus speeds: The ETERNUS DX S3 systems use PCIe 3.0 as an internal bus and SAS-3 with 12Gbit/s to connect to SSDs or HDDs in the drive enclosure.

With these measures combined, we were able to eliminate previous restrictions – the latest, third generation of Fujitsu ETERNUS DX storage systems provide 5 times the I/O performance, 3 times the bandwidth and double the bus performance of their predecessors, as shown in the picture at the top of this page. Still, to prove these claims are actually valid, we had to undergo the Storage Performance Council's daunting SPC Benchmark-1™ program. The final part of our series, due on Friday, will tell you how well the new ETERNUS DX systems scored in the required tests and how the results affect a company's ability to handle an abundance of data – and ultimately its bottom line.


René Hübel


About the Author:

René Hübel

Senior Product Marketing Manager Storage Solutions 


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