Seagate launches self-healing storage technology

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Seagate has upgraded its Exos Application Platform storage arrays with a new ASIC RAID controller that doubles performance and adds what Seagate calls self-healing to preserve data on failed hard drives.

The Exos X models are a rebrand of the former Exos AP line. The chassis can hold a mix of traditional hard drives as well as SSDs. It comes with software that automatically moves frequently accessed “hot” data to SSDs, while less-used “cold” data is moved to HDDs.

There are three Exos X products, defined by their size and number of drive bays. The 2U12 is a 2U chassis with twelve 3.5-inch hard drive bays; the 2U24 with a 2U chassis has 24 drive slots; and the 5U84 with 84 slots in a 5U chassis. It has all the standard connections: SAS, Network Attached SAS, Fiber Channel up to 32G, iSCSI up to 25G and a 10GBASE-T option as well.

The enclosures also come with Seagate’s new VelosCT controller, which doubles the performance over the older controller with performance up to 725,000 IOPS at 1ms latency, sequential read speeds up to 12 GB/s and 10 GB/s writes.

The new systems also use Seagate’s Autonomic Distributed Allocation Protection Technology (ADAPT) erasure coding technology, which minimizes data redundancy overhead and system rebuilds in the event of data loss or drive failure. .

Associated with ADAPT, a new technology, ADR (Automatic Drive Regeneration), which is the self-healing part. If a hard drive’s read/write head fails, ADR takes the failing head out of service but leaves the remaining drive heads operational. This way you sacrifice a single platter on the disk instead of the whole disk, as is usually the case with disk failure. ADAPT then rebuilds the data from the dead board elsewhere.

If just one head is removed, you could be back with 90% of that capacity once the ADR action is over, said Tom DiMauro, product manager for storage systems at Seagate. “And then, in the background, we add that drive back into the pool transparently, so that when the operation is complete, the data is rebalanced.”

He admits that some people will be wary of leaving a broken hard drive deployed in a storage array, but said this is an early version of this technology and will become a really significant TCO value proposition when hard drives will start to reach 30TB and beyond in the next several years. These discs have up to 10 platters and nine still used are room for a lot of data.

“The ability to self-heal a device and keep the vast majority of that capacity in play really makes storage systems much more efficient. Not to mention the ability for administrators to not have to worry about changing drives too frequently than they do in their data centers today. I think that’s a big deal,” he said.

The Exos X array will ship later this month.

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