SAN JOSE, Calif. – Computer vendor SGI announced its most dense storage system to date. The Modular Infinite Storage box is a 4U rack-mounted system that can be flexibly configured with up to four Intel Sandy Bridge processors and 144 2.5-inch hard disk drives.
SGI aims its MIS system at end users hungry for more storage, particularly in cloud computing environments. Sun Microsystems rolled out a 4U 48 drive system called Thumper before its acquisition by Oracle, but the MIS system sports greater density and flexibility.
MIS can be configured solely as a JBOD storage subsystem housing up to 81 3.5-inch or 162 2.5-inch drives. Alternatively it can be configured as a server with either one or two Intel Jefferson Pass motherboards and 72 3.5-inch or 144 2.5-inch drives.
The drives can be a mix of hard or solid-state disks and use serial ATA or Serial Attached SCSI interfaces. The system supports RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10.
The Jefferson Pass motherboard is an Intel design using two of its Xeon E5-2600 processors and three PCI Express Gen 3 x16 slots. The MIS system will be available in tandem with the Intel boards in March.
“We created a Lego-like concept, something Sun did not do with Thumper,” said Lance Evans, a chief storage engineer at SGI.
The design allows users to flexibly choose the amount of storage and processing power based on their applications, creating system that can serve a variety of caching and storage roles. In this way MIS is geared to server large data centers from companies such as Amazon.com—one of SGI’s largest cloud computing customers—to smaller users of Hadoop clusters or scale-out environments, Evans said.
“We’ve spun a number of printed circuit boards to carry signals and power throughout the unit, and we believe the mechanical design is novel,” based on technology SGI acquired with Copan Systems in 2010, Evans said.
The design includes custom SAS expanders that allow any drive to be flexibly allocated to either mother board. MIS also uses four custom power supplies.
“It’s not easy to put this many disks in a small space and make it work in power, cooling and available I/O channels--to some extent this is a packaging innovation,” he added.
The 4U MIS system packs up to 162 2.5-inch drives.