FAS2240: An Inside Look
NetApp has a longstanding commitment to design storage systems that let you start right, keep it simple, and grow smart. If you’ve been reading some of the recent case studies in Tech OnTap®—including this month’s case study on Be the Match and last month’s article on Broome-Tioga—it’s clear that one of the things that administrators really like about NetApp® storage is the ability to start with a small system and then steadily evolve that system as needed over time without having to perform complicated data migrations to move from one platform to the next.
Facilitating this ability was very much on our minds when we set out to design our new entry-level storage system, the FAS2240. We also wanted to significantly enhance the reliability, availability, serviceability, and manageability (RASM) features of the new platform to bring them in line with the capabilities we offer on the FAS3200 and FAS6200 series.
In this article I’ll describe the unique design features of the FAS2240, including:
Table 1) Key FAS2240 features.
Good Things Come in Small Packages
With the FAS2240, we set out to up the ante. Starting in 2009, NetApp committed to the Storage Bridge Bay (SBB) standard, a choice that has allowed us to deliver the FAS2240 in a package that is smaller and denser than anything we’ve built before. At the same time, the new design makes upgrading from the FAS2240 to another platform a breeze.
We designed the controllers for the FAS2240 as SBB canisters that plug directly into our SBB-compliant DS4243 and DS2246 disk shelves. As a result, you can have a full HA storage system in the space of a single disk shelf as small as 2U in height.
No matter which model you choose, you can configure up to 120 additional external disks (for a total of 144 disk drives) using whatever disk shelf and disk media technology suits your needs. If you start with SAS, you can add SATA (or a mix of both) at a later time, and vice versa. Fibre Channel disk drives are also supported as well as external solid-state drives (SSDs).
Figure 1) FAS2240-2 rear view. HA configuration shown. Standalone configuration uses a single PCM.
Figure 2) FAS2240-4 rear view. HA configuration shown. Standalone configuration uses a single PCM.
Easy Upgrades: No Data Migration Required
Under the Hood: Processors and I/O
To deliver great performance today and prepare the FAS2240 to support Data ONTAP® well into the future, we’ve equipped it with Intel® Jasper Forest processors. This line of processors, designed specifically for embedded and storage applications, brings the same 64-bit architecture we use in the FAS6200 series—Nehalem-EP—to our entry-level platform. Choosing the same microarchitecture further enhances compatibility, allowing the two platforms to run the same microcode. Intel Hyper-Threading Technology enables multiple threads to run on each core, essentially doubling the number of independent threads that Data ONTAP can execute in parallel. With Jasper Forest on the FAS2240, NetApp now offers a full 64-bit architecture across its entire product line. Data ONTAP has supported native 64-bit hardware since 2006, making the FAS2240 another in a long line of fully 64-bit storage systems.
Optional I/O Using "Mezzanine" Cards
Onboard I/O on each PCM includes four Gigabit Ethernet ports for LAN connections and two 6Gb wide SAS ports for connecting to internal and external SAS and SATA disks or SAS tape devices. The result is a lot of I/O in a very small package.
Figure 3) PCM showing indicator LEDs, standard ports, and optional ports on mezzanine card.
Comparison with FAS2040
Table 2) Comparison of the FAS2040HA and the FAS2240HA.
In terms of performance, the FAS2240 delivers roughly 2 to 3 times the performance of the FAS2040 depending on the application.
Resiliency, Availability, Serviceability, and Manageability
On the resiliency and availability front, we’ve added a number of features to enhance the FAS2240, bringing it on par with the FAS3200 and FAS6200 series.
For out-of-band management of NetApp SAS disk shelves, the FAS2240 service processor also provides NetApp Alternate Control Path (ACP) technology. ACP enhances data availability by giving a storage controller the ability to reset a storage channel without having to communicate over that channel. If a channel is down or misbehaving, a quick reset can bring it back online without external intervention. ACP allows a storage system to recover from faults that might otherwise require it to reboot, and that’s a big advantage.
ACP gives you a "back door" into your disk shelves. It is completely separate from the SAS data path and provides new options for nondisruptive recovery of shelf modules, including the ability to reset or power cycle an individual I/O module or an entire domain. We designed in the ability to power cycle an entire shelf as well. ACP technology enhances the ability of Data ONTAP to automatically reset a misbehaving component in order to return it to a fully operational mode without disruption.
From an engineering standpoint, the resiliency feature I’m most excited about is the ability to go into the processor and read out its internal state even when it’s not running. The combination of core dumps and internal processor state gives us the detailed forensics to understand exactly what was happening when a problem occurred so we can correct it. We can even single step the main CPU to pinpoint failure modes. While you might never need to take advantage of these capabilities, they can help us isolate hardware failures much more quickly, reducing their potential impact. This type of capability is not common on entry-level storage.
Multipath HA for Internal Disks
While MP-HA increases overall storage resiliency, it also enables Data ONTAP to perform maintenance activities such as disk firmware upgrades nondisruptively. Performance can also improve because MP-HA provides twice the bandwidth to your storage.
We designed the FAS2240 to give you more flexibility than we’ve ever offered in an entry-level platform, while engineering in a level of resiliency and availability that would normally only be found in higher end, enterprise-class storage. As an added bonus, the FAS2240 includes all storage protocols at no additional charge: NFS, CIFS, Fibre Channel, and iSCSI. This is just the latest effort to build in more software value for the entry level.
Our unique design based on the Storage Bridge Bay standard allows both standalone and HA storage configurations to be housed in a single disk shelf. As a result, if your business outgrows the FAS2240, you can simply convert your base system to a disk shelf and connect it to a FAS3200 or FAS6200 series storage system without the need to migrate data. All NetApp platforms run the same Data ONTAP operating environment, and, because the FAS2240 uses the same microarchitecture as the FAS6200, compatibility between platforms is greater than ever.
Finally, we took special care to engineer the FAS2240 for non–data center environments where space is at a premium. The FAS2240-2 delivers a complete high-performance, fault-tolerant storage system with up to 24 SAS drives in a 2U chassis that’s just 19" deep.
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