HP’s enhanced all-flash 3PAR StoreServ 7450 array: Flash at two bucks per gigabyte


Vish Mulchand, Director of Product Management, HP Storage

By Mark Cox

At HP Discover in Las Vegas, HP has unveiled enhancements to its all-flash HP 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage array which it says will finally, truly make flash storage mainstream in the enterprise. It will do this by taking the price point down again, while at the same time offering the features customers demand and the security that comes with products from a Tier One vendor.

This idea that flash has become mainstream is far from new. Several analysts and pundits declared LAST year was the year flash would become mainstream. More than a few vendors have also proclaimed over the past year that their new flash enhancements would be the death knell for spinning disks. So what’s so different about this latest claim from HP?

“This should be the last time you will ever hear anyone saying ‘we are taking flash technology mainstream,’” said Vish Mulchand, Director of Product Management, HP Storage. He said that while the mainstreaming of flash has been claimed many times before, it was still too expensive compared to the cost of spinning disk.

“The price points till now have not quite been low enough to make it mainstream, and in some cases the price came with a lack of the capabilities like full snapshots and replication that enterprise customers expect,” Mulchand said. “A year ago, flash was $13 per GB. Now with the 3PAR StoreServ 7450, we are able to take it down to $2 per GB. This combination will offer security to customers that deploy enterprise class applications because it has scale, resiliency and assurance, at a cost much less than a spinning array.”

Mulchand noted several different enhancements to the 3PAR StoreServ 7450 Storage array that make this price breakthrough possible, notably a new 1.92TB commercial multi-level cell (cMLC) solid state drive, new hardware-accelerated, inline primary deduplication, Express Indexing and thin cloning software.

“The array now contains a new high-density 1.92TB cMLC drive that increases raw capacity to 462 raw TB per single array,” he said. “Our patented Adaptive Sparing technology, which is unique to HP, let us work with the SSD vendors to take stock 1.6 TB drives and extend them to 1.92 based on the technology. That’s an increase in usable capacity per drive of up to 20%.”

An even bigger boost is provided by new compaction technologies, including hardware accelerated HP 3PAR Thin Deduplication and HP 3PAR Thin Clones software. Combined with existing thin provisioning with zero block deduplication, HP says this reduces usable capacity requirements by more than 75%.

The HP Thin Deduplication software includes Express Indexing, another patented HP technology which deals with metadata indexing. It lets customers deploy all-flash arrays for a wide range of applications by scaling to 460 TB raw and more than 1.3 petabytes of equivalent usable capacity — six times the typical raw and usable capacities provided on first-generation all-flash systems.

“Combining the new drives with these compacted technologies is what brings the cost down,” Mulchand said. “The cMLC drive, the Adaptive Sparing which gives more capacity, the new compaction technologies — all three take it down to two dollars per GB. And the customers of existing 7450 arrays with support contracts get this additional capacity for free as well.”

HP is also announcing two new guarantees. The HP 3PAR Get 6-Nines Guarantee commits to 99.9999 percent storage uptime, and also includes the 3PAR 7400 and 10,000 series as well as the all-0flash 7450. For customers concerned about flash wear out cases, HP is also offering a five-year warranty on SSDs. The five-year SSD warranty applies to 480GB, 920GB and 1.92TB HP 3PAR StoreServ SSDs and provides unconditional replacement due to drive failures, media wear-out or both.

Bringing the price point of flash down to $2 per GB is the true inflexion point for mainstream flash, Mulchand said.

“I think this signals a couple things,” Mulchand said. “It questions the continued viability of high end traditional auto-tiered arrays. It also questions the viability of some of the early all flash products with limits. Buying inexpensive flash from a Tier One vendor will give customers the confidence needed to deploy this. It means we can take it out to new parts of the marketplace.  I think it will expand the market, because if I can get flash at the same price as spinning disk with more performance, and more  power, and using less space, why wouldn’t I do it?”

The 3PAR StoreServ Get 6-Nines Guarantee is available now.   Availability of the 3PAR StoreServ 1.92TB cMLC drives is planned for July at$14,315 per drive.  3PAR Thin Deduplication and 3PAR Thin Clones software for 3PAR StoreServ 7450 is expected to begin shipping as part of the 3PAR Operating System Software Suite in September 2014 at no additional charge.

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