While there is a ton of focus in the industry surrounding NVMe, as there should be, the SAS3 and SATA markets are still strong. Bulk storage still ends up on the low cost/ capacity that disk offers and therefore we see a continued demand for SAS3 and SATA HBAs as well as RAID controllers. With this background, we have the new Microsemi Adaptec Smart Storage Adapters.
Perhaps the most interesting part of our briefing with Microsemi, aside from the new adapters, was the market segmentation information. In terms of server volumes, Microsemi’s view is that about half of the market is going to be to the hyperscale customers. That has a direct impact on product roadmaps.
The next question is what types of servers are being deployed. Here we see that the growth story is NVMe, which is why it gets press. SATA and SAS SSDs are being squeezed and disk is about flat relying upon capacity gains.
At STH, this is why we are focusing on NVMe technologies, but it is an important backdrop on where we are in the industry.
We asked about the RAID controller to HBA mix and validated our assumption that the cloud hosting providers are generally focused on HBA class devices. Those tend to be favored for software RAID applications as well as clustered storage applications where redundancy is handled in software.
The New Microsemi Adaptec Smart Storage Adapter Line
There are three new adapter lines from Microsemi. The Adaptec HBA 1100 is designed for basic connectivity of storage devices to machines. Slightly more advanced is the Microsemi Adaptec SmartHBA 2100 family which also offers zero cache RAID capabilities. Finally, the Microsemi Adaptec SmartRAID 3100 family is the traditional RAID solution. Microsemi points out the unified stack and the fact that they have moved to 28nm for low power operation versus the competition. Competition is Broadcom/ LSI in this market.
Servicing the three product lines, Microsemi essentially has both RAID silicon as well as HBA silicon and then enables features based on the different product line variants. We covered the launch of these two silicon variants in our Microsemi SmartROC 3100 and SmartIOC 2100 Launched piece.
Microsemi Adaptec HBA 1100 Overview
There are a total of seven launch SKUs ranging from 4 to 24 ports. We asked and even the 24 port versions are all serviced by the HBA silicon and do not have an additional SAS expander onboard, a design popular in high port count Adaptec controllers several generations ago.
Microsemi notes that they have optimizations for host managed SMR functionality and that their new generation offers better performance. With disk, performance is less of an issue. With SSDs, older-generation RAID controllers would be the bottleneck in SSD performance.
Microsemi Adaptec SmartHBA 2100 Family
If all you need is RAID 1, for example for mirrored boot devices, but also want a HBA for the remainder of your drives, the Microsemi Adaptec SmartHBA 2100 family is the level you are looking for:
Although we see RAID 5, we generally do not recommend using RAID 5 without a flash-backed write cache for performance reasons. The SmartHBA 2100 series adapters also allow mixed mode with RAID for some of the drives while others are passed through as HBA devices.
Microsemi Adaptec SmartRAID 3100 Family
If you are looking for a traditional RAID controller, the Microsemi Adaptec SmartRAID 3100 family has you covered with 10 SKUs:
Here one gets the flashed-backed write cache with the supercap attached to the controller. Features like maxCache 4.0 are intended to improve the performance of hard drive arrays by caching on higher performance storage. The adapters scale to use up to 4GB of cache which is a major step forward. More cache allows algorithms to store more data in cache which in turn increases performance.