Limping in long after EMC Corp has eaten its lunch and even Storage Technology Corp, which had so many problems bringing its Iceberg to market, has the thing safely out and starting to generate revenue, IBM Corp yesterday – or on Monday: it doesn’t seem to be sure which, launched the Ramac Array family, its […]
Limping in long after EMC Corp has eaten its lunch and even Storage Technology Corp, which had so many problems bringing its Iceberg to market, has the thing safely out and starting to generate revenue, IBM Corp yesterday – or on Monday: it doesn’t seem to be sure which, launched the Ramac Array family, its next generation of storage systems, promising around-the-clock data availability in a high capacity, high performance subsystem for the mainframe. The Ramac marks the company’s integration of parallel processing arrays and multi-level caches with a fault-tolerant architecture and a RAID 5 implementation. For Ed Zschau, vice-president and general manager of IBM Storage Systems division: The introduction of the Ramac Array Family is nothing short of a revolution in storage, of the same magnitude as IBM’s introduction of the first disk drive almost four decades ago. The Array Family is based on a RAID 5 implementation, with fault-tolerance integrated into a four-level building-block design comprising disk drive, drawer, rack and subsystem. It is as yet however a rather small family comprising only two offspring: the Ramac Array DASD and the Ramac Array Subsystem, both offering up to 90.8Gb of data storage with 16 drawers, available in increments of 5.6Gb with a minimum of two disk drives to be attached to a single 3990 Storage Control for a subsystem capable of 180Gb of data.
At the heart of the storage system is the IBM 2Gb 3.5 disk drive, AliCat, which uses IBM’s magneto-resistive head technology offering areal data densities of 259.5M-bits per square inch and an average seek-time of 9.4mS, average latency of 5.6mS and data transfer rates of up to 5.2M-bytes per second. Four of these disk drives are contained in each drawer, each a self-contained independent RAID 5 array, and up to 16 drawers are assembled into a rack. Parallel processing gives high data throughput and low response times by enabling the subsystem to handle up to 64 concurrent data transfers within the 16 drawers, using multiple paths between drawer and subsystem and subsystem and host. The Array DASD attaches to the IBM 3990 Model 3 or Model 6 Storage Control, combining RAID 5 fault-tolerance with the 3990’s extended functions, such as Remote Copy through Escon channels, Concurrent Copy, Dual Copy and DASD Fast Write. Designed for around the clock operations, it claims the mantle of IBM’s highest availablility. The Array Subsystem attaches directly to the IBM ES/9000 and earlier processors – with typical lack of consistency, IBM insists on using the ridiculous acronym DASD, which used to stand for Direct Access Storage Device, and then attaches it only to the version that is not directly attached to the channel but goes through the disk controller – and uses IBM 3380, 3390 or 9345 track formats. As to pricing the Ramac Array DASD Array Rack will cost $50,000 and each drawer array $30,000. The maximum capacity configuration of 180Gb, with 3990 Model 6 Storage Control, 32Mb cache, four Escon channels and 8Mb non-volatile storage will cost $1.308m. It will be available in September. The Ramac Array Subsystem Drawer Array is $30,000 and the Model 3, with Quad Controller and Three Phase Power, configured to support the maximum capacity of 90Gb with 128Mb Controller cache, and eight Escon or eight parallel channels is $701,000. For use with 3990 Model 2 controller and 3380 Model K drives it will be available from the end of November, availability for use with the 9343 and 9345 Models l and 2 will be next January.