You like the capacity of 3.5-inch SATA hard drives. You like the performance of solid-state drives. Have you ever had a thought on how great would it be to combine these two in your favorite 2U rack server? If so, then I would consider the IBM System x3630 M4. Let me explain why is it so.
The IBM System x3630 M4 is a dual-socket 2U rack server built on Intel's "Romley EN" architecture. It scales up to 14 internal 3.5-inch drives (that is up to 42 TB of internal storage), and it also supports external JBOD enclosures (up to 36). The x3630 M4 features up to 384 GB of memory, up to four integrated Gigabit Ethernet ports, three or five PCIe slots, and 80 PLUS Platinum certified hot-swap redundant power supplies.
Due to its capabilities, x3630 M4 is a great choice for:
- Light databases
- Collaboration/e-mail applications
- Virtualization solutions
- Unified NAS storage
All these workloads require sufficient storage capacity and performance. Required capacity can be efficiently achieved by using the 3.5-inch SATA hard drives (for example, 3 TB HDDs), but what about the performance?
The answer is caching. Most frequently used data ("hot" data) are stored in a cache, while less frequently used data ("cold" data) are stored on a lower speed but more cost effective regular storage. This helps to optimize the cost of data storage while providing the required performance level.
In multi-user and virtualized environments, IOPS and response time are the key factors affecting the overall storage performance. Since the performance of traditional SATA HDDs can be insufficient, you may want to add an SSD-based cache layer to your implementation. Why SSDs? Because they provide extreme IOPS (dozens of thousands) and response time (microseconds) compared to traditional HDDs (hundreds and milliseconds respectively). Also, traditional DRAM-based cache on RAID controllers is limited to few gigabytes while SSD-based cache can be up to 512 GB!
However, in the majority of cases, SSDs are available in 2.5-inch or 1.8-inch form factors. How can I use them in my 3.5-inch server?
For x3630 M4, IBM offers 2.5-inch SSDs in a special 3.5-inch hot-swap tray! Now, you can install SSDs in your server in addition to your favorite 3.5-inch SATA hard drives. The next question is how can I enable caching with these drives?
With the IBM ServeRAID M5110 SAS/SATA Controller serving internal drives, you can activate the SSD Caching Enabler software feature using the IBM Features on Demand (FoD) process together with the SSD Performance Accelerator FoD to enable SSD caching and optimize the performance of SSDs.
Interested? You can find more information about the x3630 M4 server and the IBM RAID controllers in the following Product Guides:
Ilya Krutov, IBM Redbooks