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Dell Enterprise Drives

Dell Enterprise Drives
Dell puts its enterprise hard drive (HDD) and solid state drive (SSD) offerings through a rigorous validation process before they are ever considered as additions to PowerEdge server portfolio. Only the very best drives that can meet exact specifications for performance, duty cycles, Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and HDD rotational vibration necessary for an enterprise-level environment are accepted for customer usage.

In order to provide ongoing support through the service life of enterprise dives, Dell provides a patented online firmware update capability via the Dell Update Package (DUP). The DUP process translates to less downtime due to firmware maintenance updates.

Types of drives and best fits:

Hard Disk Drives and Solid State Drives come in several varieties designed to address a wide range of customer requirements. These include:
  • Solid State SAS and SATA Drives: Fast storage medium for random IO
  • 10K & 15K SAS Hard Drives: Performance and availability for performance optimized applications
  • 7.2K SAS & SATA Hard Drives: High capacity and exceptional $/GB for capacity optimized applications
  • Entry Drives: Least expensive drives used in applications where low usage and limited total number of drives are applicable. Due to restrictions on use, these drives are available in a small number of systems and configurations.
ISE – Instant Scramble Erase

ISE is a new cryptographic feature that is standard within the next-generation of PowerEdge. ISE is known as instant erase, instant scramble erase, instant secure erase or crypto erase. When retiring or repurposing a system or array the next-generation PowerEdge servers can help you to permanently erase content (optionally) from HDDs or SDDs.

With ISE, you can use a standard command that triggers the drive to discard its hidden internal media encryption key, to self-generate a new, unrelated key, and then to start using the new key with its internal encryption/decryption engine. From that point forward the data already on the media is useless (“scrambled”). Even physical locations of reassigned logical blocks are scrambled (in the rare chance that data can be somehow recovered from these “bad” locations).

The drive now uses the new internal media encryption key for its transparent encryption and decryption. Regardless of the drive size, ISE operates consistently to help you repurpose drives quickly.    
Dell Enterprise Solid-State Drives 
Dell Enterprise Solid State Drives 

Dell offers different SSD solutions to meet diverse customer needs. Enterprise SSDs as a class are unique against client or consumer-based SSD in terms of reliability, performance and architecture. While consumer-based SSDs, such as those utilized in notebooks are designed with a focus on consumer-based workloads, rigidity and battery life, enterprise-class SSDs are designed around enterprise application I/O (input/output) requirements with random I/O performance, reliability and protection of data during a sudden power-down.

Understanding the basics of enterprise-class SSDs allow customers to make informed decisions when comparing solutions.


Over-provisioning: The Achilles' heel of SSDs are their write characteristics. To rewrite an area of an SSD that has already been written, the data must be erased and then written. In order to overcome a portion of the write performance penalty, Dell enterprise SSD found across Dell PowerEdge products, all employ a practice known as over-provisioning of Flash. This practice keeps native Flash capacity beyond the user-defined capacity, and utilizes the additional space as a scratch pad of sorts to quickly put down application write data on areas of Flash that are already in an erased state. The SSDs perform cleanup functions of this over-provisioned Flash space during time periods typically not impacting application performance.

 

Write Endurance: Write endurance is the number of program/erase (P/E or write cycles) that can be applied to a block of flash memory before the storage media becomes unreliable. Due to different data center workloads and read/write needs, Dell offers different enterprise SSDs with different endurance ratings so customers can design the right solution for their needs.

Below are the different categories of enterprise SSDs Dell offers:

  • Write Intensive (WI): 50/50 read/write workloads with highest endurance. HPC, Database logging, and caching are example workloads.
  • Mix Use (MU): 70/30 read/write workloads with medium endurance. E-mail/messaging, OLTP, and E-commerce are example workloads
  • Read Intensive (RI): 90/10 read/write workloads with lower endurance. Database warehousing, media streaming, and VOD solutions are example workloads.
  • Boot Optimized (Boot): Lowest cost/small capacity SSDs designed to be used as a boot device in servers. Low endurance is also a characteristic.

Host Interface: Dell enterprise SSDs support three kinds of host interface options.

  • SATA SSD: SATA SSDs are based on the industry standard SATA interface. SATA SSDs provide reasonable performance for enterprise servers.
  • SAS SSD: SAS SSDs are based on the industry standard SAS interface. SAS SSDs combine superior reliability, data integrity, and data fail recovery making them suitable for enterprise applications.
  • PCIe SSD: The Dell PowerEdge Express Flash PCIe SSD is a high performance solid state storage device that enables IOPS performance of up to 2000X more than conventional rotating hard drives.
Hard Disk Drives
Hard Disk Drives for Dell Enterprise server and storage products are available in several different types, including Mission Critical (10K & 15K) Performance Optimized, Business Critical (7.2K) Capacity Optimized.Hard Disk Drives 
Generally speaking, the Mission Critical (MC) or Performance Optimized drives (10K and 15K SAS) are used in those applications requiring the highest reliability and performance and are only available in 2.5” small form factor. Business Critical (BC) or Capacity Optimized drives (7.2K Nearline SAS and SATA) may provide much higher capacities, but lower reliability and performance when compared to Mission Critical. They are available in both 2.5” small form factor and 3.5” large form factor. There is a fundamental transition occurring in the HDD industry. The standard size of a basic unit of data (a sector on the drive) is changing from 512 bytes to 4K bytes. Fortunately there are ways to maintain the 512 byte sector size, so that both are available into the future.

Beginning in late 2009, accelerating in 2010, and hitting mainstream in 2011 for client-based HDDs, hard drive companies began migrating from the legacy sector size of 512 bytes to a larger, more efficient sector size of 4,096 bytes, generally referred to as 4K sectors, and now referenced as Advanced Format by IDEMA (The International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association). Enterprise HDDs are also moving to embrace this format, but will be slower to adopt. The first Advanced Format Enterprise HDD became available in 2012, with a limited set in 2013 and a more general distribution in 2014 and beyond.

Businesses have been using applications and operating systems / file systems built on 512 bytes (512n) for decades. This move to 4K byte sector size will impact those software stacks and will result in additional validation work as well as possible structural changes to software as the transition is made. New, higher capacity drives will need to be created in this 4K format. Recognizing that some data centers may be reluctant to make a change like this quickly, an emulation model of these drives has been created – the drive is built from 4K technology, but allows for 512 byte addressing and transfer at the interface. These drives are known as 512e.

Below is a table describing these concepts:

 Format typeBytes per sector value Bytes per physical sector value 
 512n 512 512
 512e 512 4,096
 4Kn 4,096 4,096

There are many aspects of modern computing systems that continue to assume that sectors are always 512 bytes. The Dell HDD offering contains 512n drives, 512e drives, and drives in the 4Kn format. The 512n format is available for customers interested in maintaining the same drive type they have used over time. The 512e drives provide a 512 byte sector size for those capacities not available in 512n. The 4Kn formatted drives are for those customers interested in adopting the latest, highest capacity HDDs and for those getting prepared for the future direction of the HDD industry. The newest, highest capacity HDDs that 4Kn sector format offers will also be available in 512e sector format.

Enhanced Performance 512e HDD

TurboBoost™ Enhanced Cache HDDs improve read performance for the standard enterprise performance HDD design (10K & 15K RPM rotational speed). This new 2.5” form factor 512e drive integrates small amount of eMLC NAND as cache, reducing latencies for significantly faster, predictable response times. Rather than constructing storage solutions with a mixture of discrete HDDs and SSDs, TurboBoost HDDs can often provide the best of both worlds. At the very least, TurboBoost can help to improve general work productivity through greatly improved availability of hot data (the data most frequently sought by the host) and greatly reduced IOPS response time.

Enhanced cache HDD benefits vary by applications - the greater the workload, the more effective they are. Ideal for building new high-performance servers, manage multiple transactions quickly, or drop-in replacements as the feature is active full time and does not require any enablement from host. Key workloads that benefit include VDI, OLTP, Web servers, database queries and Exchange.