IBM revamps NAS line

As part of a growing industrywide focus on midrange storage products, IBM announced Wednesday that it has doubled the processing power and capacity of its midtier network-attached storage (NAS) array and gateway device and added what analysts believe is the industry's first integrated TCP/IP offload engine.

TCP/IP offload engines, or TOEs, move the TCP/IP processing stack from the NAS processor to a custom card. Processing of the TCP/IP stack can eat as much as 90 percent of a CPU's processing capacity, according to analysts.

"I thought that the uptick in performance was pretty dramatic," said Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Storage Mobility Group in Nashua, N.H. "I think [TOEs] will be key in guaranteeing customers get that better performance."

David Vaughn, product manager of networked storage at IBM Corp.'s storage systems group, said IBM's TotalStorage NAS 200 file server will now sport 2.4-GHz Intel Corp. Xeon processors and 146.8GB SCSI disk drives.

Vaughn said IBM's TotalStorage NAS Gateway 300 device is also benefitting from the same upgrades, and can now scale to 22TB -- with double the throughput to storage-area networks (SAN) through 2G bit/sec. Fibre Channel ports. The Gateway 300, which translates block-level data on a SAN into files that can be transferred over an IP network, starts at US$63,100.

The upgrades will increase Windows common internet file system performance by 50 percent and Unix application performance or network file system performance by 30 percent on both servers.

The NAS 200 filer now scales to 7TB. Prices start at $17,295; It will be available Nov. 22.

IBM's TotalStorage FAStT 200, 500 and 700 NAS boxes will be getting double their normal capacity using new 146.8GB disk drives. The FAStT 200, designed for workgroups and departments, now scales to 9TB. And the FAStT 500 and 700 models, designed for business-critical applications in midsize environments, now scale to 32.8TB.

The product upgrades come on the heels of IBM's announcement last week that it was remerging its storage and server divisions, which it separated a year and a half ago.

"The important thing for us is we decoupled hardware and software, which allows us to accelerate development of our products," Vaughn said.

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