HP, Sun, Hitachi to revamp high-end storage lines

Storage systems will be dramatically faster and have loads more capacity after three key vendors - Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Hitachi Data Systems - make high-end disk subsystem announcements this month.

HP will announce this summer its newest high-end storage array, the HP SureStore Disk Array XP512. The storage subsystem can hold up to 20 terabytes of data, expandable up to 40 terabytes. Matching the XP512 will be Hitachi's Freedom Storage Array 9900, which is built on a similar hardware architecture but uses different software. In mid-June, Sun will announce its T300, code-named Purple, a modular system with virtually unlimited storage.

The HP XP512 and the Hitachi 9900 fit into Fibre Channel switched-fabric storage area networks (SANs) and have non-blocked architectures extending to cache memory, devices and host computers. They have 32G bytes of cache memory, and they will support up to 512 disks and up to 32 different Fibre Channel loops.

Disk drives with 74G bytes of capacity will be available later this year for the XP512 and 9900, effectively scaling the maximum capacity of the arrays to more than 40 terabytes. These devices have an internal bandwidth of 6.4G bytes, compared to the 1.4G bytes of EMC's recently introduced Symmetrix 8000 series. The XP512 and Freedom 9900 support RAID 0, 1 and 5. Each subsystem uses 10,000-RPM disk drives.

HP has enhanced the XP platform with Web-based software. Dubbed CommandView XP, it ties into HP's OpenView network management software.

The HP XP512 and Hitachi 9900 work with Unix, HP-UX, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Linux, Novell NetWare, and OS/390.

Sun's T300 Purple disk subsystem is a follow-on to the StorEdge 3500 and StorEdge 5200 Disk Array. Like the 3500, it is a RAID 5 box with a modular architecture in which rack-mounted shelves hold redundant controllers and disk drives, which are subsequently cabled together for operation. Like the HP512 and Hitachi 9900, the T300 uses 10,000-RPM drives.

The T300 works only with an Ancor fabric Fibre Channel switch. The modular architecture allows a number of arrays to be attached to the T300. According to analysts at Disk/Trend in Mountain View, Calif., the enterprise storage landscape is changing rapidly. In 1999, RAID array sales topped $14 billion. By 2002, sales revenues are projected to reach $19.8 billion, an average annual increase for the 1999-2002 period of 12.1%.

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