We have been witnessing a gradual migration in the server space to quad-node and slim form factor compute-dense solutions.
Perhaps more important is the new paradigm that is being created by the behemoths of the Information Age. The Facebook Open Compute Project is a perfect example of companies defying conventional solutions and defining the shape of the future datacenter. The Open Compute initiative initially involved companies sharing server designs to help companies deploy solutions unhampered by the limited options provided by hardware vendors.
This has literally changed the shape of Facebook datacenters, with over half of all servers employed in their datacenters being custom built by Facebook. Facebook has taken this a step further and have announced that their new 290,000 square-foot datacenter in Sweden will feature 100% Open Compute designed servers. Facebook is merely leading this charge, and to the dismay of OEM vendors, others are beginning to follow suit.
This shift in server design towards high-density and custom deployments is creating a burgeoning market for HBA solutions that did not exist a scant few years ago. Microsoft has already begun a transition from RAID controllers to HBAs in all of their server farms, so the market is certainly ripe for the picking.
Pricing will be key for this new family of devices, and we are not privy to the price structure at this time. Another key for success is going to be reliability and compatibility. Adaptec has addressed the compatibly issues by testing compatibility with 25 leading vendors for servers, enclosures, motherboards, drives and software. The product line was tested with over 300 disk drives, systems and other devices.
The potential for large gains in density is one of the defining attributes of this generation of HBAs. These controllers can literally provide double the density of the competition. The only caveat is that in order to provide that density, Adaptec has to make the jump to HD MiniSAS, a year earlier than the competitors are. This can be a bit of a gamble, as this new type of cable is going to carry a price premium until fully adopted into the enterprise space. This will lead to higher cabling costs, but with such high-density gains, particularly in the smaller server racks, many will be willing to shoulder that price.
The datacenter as we know it is changing rapidly, with new disruptive technologies in the form of SSDs and the changing form factor of the server itself. By designing and integrating new features and unparalleled density into this new HBA product, Adaptec has addressed the changing size of the server itself.
Infusing maximum performance, up to 800K random 4K IOPS and 6400MB/s in throughput, into the new HBA family creates a combination that Adaptec feels will provide an advantage in high-performance SSD deployments. General availability for these controllers will come shortly, and we look forward to a full product evaluation on our TweakTown enterprise test bench.
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