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October 20, 2009

2.026: what's in a name – ds8700

Back in April, Dave Graham had a little fun with V-Max and a couple of other products that share the same name. I got a good chuckle from his post at the time, so I thought I might recreate his idea in support (!) of today's DS8700 announcement by IBM.

In no particular order, here are several namesakes of IBM's latest enterprise-class storage wanna-bee:

DS-8700 High-speed lockstitch sewing machine

Dongsen's website description for the DS-8700 starts off with "A new generation model designed for a quiet and smooth performance," a statement that pretty much confirms that this isn't your typical storage product. And not surprisingly, there's also a knock-off version of the DS-8700 from DASU, marketed as the DS8700 (without the hyphen – how clever).








Same exact model number, with just enough visual differentiation to sidestep any legal concerns… 

Servo DS 8700 G Digital-Super Graupner

The description of this clever little device could perhaps be mistaken as referencing a storage product, although it might be some sort of self-propelled device (extremely fast; high torque; robust gearbox; works with all gyro systems):

Upon closer inspection, you realize that it's a servo for controlling the tail rotor for model helicopters, and not a mobile storage platform.

dallas semiconductor ds8700

This one had me chuckling.

Like IBM's DS8000 series, the Dallas Semiconductor microprocessor programming adapter model DS8700 is (already) obsolete, though you can still find a few laying around in various second-hand stores (Google search here). I couldn't find a picture, but I bet if we all click on a few of the links in that search the component liquidators may well interpret these as a sudden resurgence of interest!

Kinda the inverse of insider trading, if you catch my drift Wink

owa-DS 8700

This one is my favorite, though: "especially for fishermen and hunters," with a compelling description:

    • Available in 2 sizes
    • See-Thru window graphics. You can see out. No one can see in.
    • Only the designs and sizes displayed are available. No customizing of these designs.
    • Generally ships in 2 business days.
    • Easy to install high quality graphics

Makes you want to run to the telephone to call your IBM rep and order up a bunch, don't it?

the ibm ds-8700

There's not a lot more to say about IBM's DS8700 announcement today. A routine upgrade of processors from P5+ to P6's, a small increase in cache memory, elimination of ESCON and a switch from  RIO-G to PCIe Gen 2 as the processor/IO interconnect, consolidation into a single platform that can be configured 2-way or 4-way (I'm not sure if that's a field upgradable option, though).


Sure, there are the usual claims of 50% improvement in total IOPS over the DS8300 Turbo and a 150% increase in back-end bandwidth (MB/s). And my personal favorite was the claims of "up to 2.5x performance for distinct applications."

Somehow I doubt that "distinct" is synonymous with "real world."
Or even "commonplace," for that matter.

But running the claimed numbers against observed performance in both OLTP and DSS workloads on the DS8300, and the DS8700 still falls far short of competing with the DMX4, much less V-Max.

And if indeed all this claimed performance is real, then why is the new DS8700 still limited to a maximum of only 1024 disk drives? And why no mention of Flash drives? You'd think IBM would be whooping it up if all this performance translated into meaningful value for Flash drive deployments! And the lack of any reference to Flash drive improvements over the DS8300 implies that the system is still limited to using the older STEC 73GB and 146GB drives, while DMX4 and V-Max both support the newer 200GB and 400GB drives.

CORRECTION: IBM did indeed mention flash drives in their launch materials (I just missed it). Still limited to the smaller capacity drives, as I noted above. And the 8700 is limited to a max of 256 SSDs, no RAID 6 or RAID 10. Meanwhile, V-Max supports 200GB and 400GB flash drives, has no practical limit on the number of (you can RPQ up to 2300 or so if you'd like), and you can use any RAID protection type you prefer.

Most interesting to me was that there has been no mention of anything FAST-like for the DS8K, nor any real evidence of integration of Flash into the platform at all. This silence while Master Scientist Barry Whyte is literally gushing over on his blog about the fact that the SVC is getting native SAS flash capacity to use as a local mirror to virtualized storage. Given the relative silence from DS8K land, perhaps IBM has finally shifted its focus (and its "blue dollars") away from the aged old DS8K line and over to the Intel-powered SVC?

I'll bet that's why BarryW is so obviously enthusiastic these days!

But if IBM is investing in Flash only for the SVC platform, then the DS8700 must be part of an exit strategy…a final little speed-bump to tide things over just one more tech refresh cycle.


(Probably not even interesting enough for the DASU gang to want to clone it!)

Happy Sewing!


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Really, so we're back to the "DS8xxx line is dead" thing again? Just when you had pretended to abandon it in your previous post.

So it's a huge deal when DMX switches processors and interconnects, but it's a dead product line when IBM does the same? OK.

the storage anarchist

TimC -

Nowhere did I say that the DS8K is dead. Just observed that IBM is making FAR more noise about the SVC's flash integration than about the DS8K.

Maybe it's just BarryW's enthusiasm, but you gotta admit that every one else has been silent about the DS8700 - almost as if they're embarrassed to acknowledge it?

K.T. Steveson

Afternoon Barry. I figured that you'd have something entertaining to say given that IBM made a major announcement today. I have to admit that you gave me a chuckle with all of the different 'DS8700' type things that you found. I'm personally partial to the servo.

Not speaking for IBM here, as I'm not paid well enough to do that, but I'll answer a couple of your questions.

Yes, the upgrade from a 2-way to a 4-way can be done in the field, and can be done concurrently.

Yes, solid state drives are still a big deal with the DS8700. As for something similar to the coarse grained data mobility you guys have with FAST, we've been able to do that for a while now with an appliance like the SVC, or on the host side with our Softek data mobility suite.

Also, we once again failed to announce the withdrawal from marketing of the DS8300. It's still available. Sorry that it keeps not dying on your schedule. :-)

the storage anarchist

@K.T. -

Thanks for taking this post in the spirit it was intended - all in good fun!



Are you trying to say they've gone from Shark to Striped Bass? Hmmm, something fishy about that...

Wes Felter (IBM Research)

Here you go, Anarchist:

"To take advantage of SSDs in a tiered DS8700 system, IBM will enhance the DS8700’s ability to identify hot data and automatically migrate that data to and from solid-state and traditional spinning drives. This automated data relocation can help optimize data placement across tiers of drives with different price and performance attributes, helping clients more effectively balance system price and performance. As one example, by moving only ten percent of the hottest data from fibre channel drives to solid state drives, it’s expected that clients can see approximately a 300 percent performance gain for high transaction workloads."


the storage anarchist

Congrats...good to know that you're actually thinking about these things.

I can't help but notice that these are forward-looking, non-committal projections ("will enhance," "can help," "it's expected").

Could you be a bit more specific?

As in: Symm FAST v1 (full LUN) ships this quarter. FAST v2 (sub LUN) ships mid-2010.


loving the comments on "whats in a name" - the sewing machine had me in stiches but the servo was by far the best!!!!

all good fun!

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