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Tegile IntelliFlash array family welcomes all-NVMe sibling

A rack of Tegile's IntelliFlash N Series NVMe arrays scales to 60 PB of effective capacity. Tegile promises 3 million IOPS in a single array with full data services at low latency.

Tegile Systems has broadened its storage arrays with two models designed for nonvolatile memory express flash.

The Tegile IntelliFlash N-5000 Series arrays are expected to be generally available in the fourth quarter. The unified block and file all-flash arrays bundle nonvolatile memory express (NVMe) SSDs from Western Digital-owned HGST with the Tegile IntelliFlash operating system.

N Series arrays include two forms of memory: double data rate fourth-generation (DDR4) synchronous DRAM and nonvolatile dual in-line memory modules (NVDIMMs). The dual-controller arrays pack 24 PCIe NVMe SSDs in 2U.

The high-end Tegile IntelliFlash N5800 scales from 76 TB to 153 TB of raw NVMe flash. Outfitted with 3 TB of DDR4 memory and 64 GB of NVDIMM memory per system, the N5800 is aimed at big data analytics and streaming real-time workloads. Endurance is rated at three drive writes per day.

The N5200 building block is designed for high IOPS workloads that can tolerate lower performance. Raw storage scales from 23 TB to 46 TB. A single N5200 system supports 768 TB of DDR4 and 16 GB of NVDIMM capacity, and the system is rated for one drive write per day.

This is like taking 10 racks of legacy storage gear and compressing it down to one rack that can deliver an order-of-magnitude performance increase.
Narayan Venkatchief marketing officer, Tegile

Tegile claims a rack of IntelliFlash NVMe arrays can handle more than 60 million IOPS in a response time of 200 microseconds. Rack capacity scales to 14 PB following deduplication and compression. IntelliFlash OS provides at-rest data encryption and data protection with clones, snapshots and replication.

"Speed and feeds aside, this is like taking 10 racks of legacy storage gear and compressing it down to one rack that can deliver an order-of-magnitude performance increase," said Narayan Venkat, Tegile chief marketing officer.

Tegile pins application metadata to fast tier of flash

The NVMe protocol bypasses the latency associated with the traditional iSCSI stack. Rather than using storage semantics to address an application, an NVMe system addresses bits and bytes with memory semantics. The change is designed to deliver higher levels of parallelism and throughput at ultra-low latency.

"With NVMe, you've got 64,000 different data paths into each one of those drives. The ability to parallelize that workload in the software makes NVMe even more interesting," said Eric Burgener, a research director for storage at IT analyst firm IDC. "That is one area for differentiation on the software side. It would allow systems to get more performance out of NVMe technologies."

Customers can mix and match Tegile hybrid and all-flash arrays. The Tegile software stack separates an application's data and metadata, locking the metadata on a tier of high-performance flash. Most systems write application data and metadata at the same time, which requires the extra step of accessing disk or DRAM cache to retrieve file metadata.

Venkat said Tegile lays out data to maximize the performance of the underlying storage media.

Tegile started shipping storage arrays in 2012. The new NVMe arrays slot between the Tegile IntelliFlash HD multi-tiered arrays and Tegile IntelliStack converged infrastructure. Tegile's flagship is the T4000 Series of hybrid flash and all-flash arrays.

Tegile N-5000
Tegile N-5000 NVMe all-flash array.

NVMe scrimmage: Proprietary PCIe mesh vs. custom NVMe SSDs

The NVMe ecosystem is evolving, setting up alternative approaches to installing NVMe flash in the chassis. Pure Storage's FlashArray//X incorporates proprietary NVMe modules directly on blades. Conversely, Dell EMC in March discontinued its DSSD D5 product with a custom-designed NVMe mesh.

Tegile IntelliFlash products originally were designed on the InfiniFlash all-flash chassis created by SanDisk, also part of Western Digital. That enterprise MLC-based flash product has since been scrapped.

"Tegile is an example of the overall trend [of vendors starting to] move away from the use of custom hardware designs in these high-performance systems," Burgener said. "In terms of the cost per gigabyte and cost per IOPS, they bring a pretty good value to the table. Tegile systems don't scale as high in terms of overall IOPS as some other systems, but their metadata implementation is a nice little differentiator."

Burgener said that because Western Digital is a Tegile strategic investor, Tegile has a guaranteed supply of NVMe at a reduced unit cost even during the current NAND shortage.

Tegile's all-flash NVMe arrays execute writes in persistent memory. To achieve a high ratio of cache hits, multiple read-write requests get bundled in transaction groups. Random writes are automatically converted to sequential writes. Hot data remains in nonvolatile memory. Tegile's adaptive algorithm handles multiple I/O patterns.

The new Tegile storage runs the NVMe protocol atop an internal PCIe fabric. Venkat said it will allow Tegile to extend its embedded PCIe as NVMe over Fabrics specifications mature.

"We have the ability to literally flip a switch and export capacity as an NVMe target, just like Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NFS and SMB are objects," Venkat said.

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