Nexsan SATABeast: 1-Tbyte Drives Raise Capacity, Lower Power Consumption

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Nexsan is now using Hitachi's new Ultrastar A7K1000 1-Tbyte SATA hard drives in its SATABeast, SATABoy, and SATABlade storage arrays, giving the SATABeast a 25-percent boost in capacity to 42 Tbytes in a 4U rackmount enclosure, said Gary Watson, CTO and co-founder of the Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based vendor.

That jump in capacity is accompanied by a cut in the SATABeast's power consumption of up to 75 percent thanks to its AutoMAID technology, and the addition of 4-Gbits-per-second Fibre Channel connectivity to increase throughput.

AutoMAID is Nexsan's version of MAID, or massive array of idle disks, which allows hard drives to be powered at a lower level when not used.

The new Hitachi hard drives support all three levels of power use with Nexsan's AutoMAID, Watson said.

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At the first level, the drive heads are unloaded and moved away from the media if the drives are not used for a certain length of time. This reduces the friction from the air inside the drive on the spinning media, resulting in a reduction in power consumption by about 30 percent over the entire array, Watson said. Should a read from or write to the drive happen, it can recover to normal operation in less than a second, he said.

At the second level, the heads are removed from the media and the drives are spun down to half-speed, with recovery typically happening within 15 seconds, he said.

At the third level, the hard drive is completely spun down, but power is not cut off from the drive. "The drive goes to sleep," Watson said. "By the third level, it is saving up to 75 percent of power consumption," he said.

Nexsan includes AutoMAID capability with all of its SATABeast arrays, Watson said. "SATABeast is a full-function RAID box, so you can hammer it 24 hours a day," he said.

Jeanne Wilson, president of Condor Storage, a Sedona, Ariz.-based solution provider and Nexsan partner, called the drop in power consumption a big deal for larger data centers.

"It's expensive to upgrade a UPS, and floor space is constrained," Wilson said. "Companies should do what the can to lower their environmentals. Why not choose a lower-power-consumption device if they need a chunk of storage? And if they want 42 Tbytes with lower power consumption, they won't find it anywhere else."

With the SATABeast, customers can get up to 42 1-Tbyte hard drives in a 4U enclosure, along with AutoMAID, four-way autofail, active-active controllers, and 4-Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity, Wilson said.

Customers who have been conditioned to automatically reach for a 3U enclosure with 14 to 16 hard drives when they run out of space are finally starting to see the advantage of the SATABeast, especially with their experience in server consolidation and their increased use of high-density servers, Wilson said.

"I wouldn't spend the majority of my time promoting Nexsan if it wasn't the best solution," she said. "Nexsan built a better mousetrap."

MAID as a storage option has been rather slow to catch on in the market, but about half of Nexsan's customers use the AutoMAID technology, Watson said.

"It's like getting a battery with your laptop—you might as well use it," he said. "Like every other feature on our products, it's included in the purchase price."

The new hard drives and 4-Gbps Fibre Channel enclosures are currently available. Nexsan sales go 100 percent through the channel.