Cambex enters mainframe DASD market with low-cost disk array; Company's first Cascade array DASD offers fully mirrored storage systems for price of non-mirrored products.
The company's new Cascade Array DASD is Cambex's first entry into the $5-billion-a-year mainframe DASD market and is intended to compete with the latest products from IBM, EMC Corporation, Hitachi Data Systems, Storage Technology and Amdahl Corporation. It plans to introduce a RAID-5 product later this year.
"As a well-established supplier of mainframe memory, we felt it was important to set new performance and value standards with our first offering, in a DASD market that is changing rapidly," Joseph F. Kruy, chairman and chief executive officer of Cambex, stated.
"The most important considerations in large-scale DASD disk array purchasing today are high availability, extended functionality and affordable cost-per-megabyte," Kruy said. "The Cascade Array DASD addresses those issues directly, during its initial introductory period, by being offered exclusively in a RAID-1 "fully mirrored" mode at a price of under $3 per megabyte for a fully configured array," he stated.
"We believe this solution will expand the size of the mainframe DASD market by making large capacity, risk-free storage more affordable -- without compromising DASD performance -- for emerging datawarehousing, imaging and analytical processing applications, and for applications currently relegated to tape or optical storage in which large capacity and fast access is desirable," Kruy commented.
The Cascade Array DASD system is fully compatible with IBM DASD and can be run behind the same IBM 3990 Storage Control units as IBM RAMAC Array DASD or 3390 DASD units. In addition, the Cascade storage system makes use of all of the standard and extended functions that IBM provides through its storage controllers, thereby extending the useful life of the 3990 controllers.
The Cascade Array DASD is faster, more compact, more energy efficient and has up to three times the capacity of the IBM DASD products, at a fraction of the price. In an unmirrored mode, the Cascade Array DASD can store up to 544 gigabytes of data, which is equal to 272 gigabytes when in a RAID-1, or fully mirrored, mode.
Mirroring is the process of writing data separately and simultaneously to two independent sets of disks to assure a high level of data protection, or availability. Mirroring, while normally more costly than other RAID protection schemes, is considered a high performance and safe method of data storage.
The total compatibility of Cascade Array DASD with IBM 3990 Storage Control function adds important operating advantages not available on other non-IBM DASD products. These advantages include full access to ESCON or parallel channels, and to such advanced functions as DASD fast-write, dual copy, dynamic cache management, transient dual copy and concurrent dual copy. The product's operational transparency enables users to obtain error and performance reporting identical to IBM DASD systems.
Two versions of the Cascade Array DASD are available, the Model 3 which offers up to 90 gigabytes per unit, and the Model 3X which offers an extended capacity of 272 gigabytes per unit. The Cascade products are in beta test at this time, with initial shipments of the Model 3 scheduled for June, and the Model 3X scheduled for August.
Matched to Three IBM Products
Because Cascade arrays are the only non-IBM arrays to operate transparently as an attachment to IBM 3990 Storage Control units, they offer attractive alternatives to IBM RAMAC Array DASD in many applications, as well as to IBM 3390 Models 3 and 9 data storage units. Cascade arrays also substantially extend the life of IBM 3990 Storage Control units because they attach, alone or combined with IBM DASD strings, to those storage controllers.
The Cascade mirrored (RAID-1) Model 3X array, with usable capacity up to 272 GB, is an effective alternative to RAMAC Array DASD, especially in applications in which speed, capacity, cost and simplicity are preferred over RAID-5 type protection. The Cascade Model 3X array utilizes 9-gigabyte disk drives with a 5-1/4-inch form factor. This drive provides a variety of operating advantages over the IBM Model 3390-9 DASD as well: rotational latency four times faster, and seek time twice as fast, yielding a total access time less than half that of IBM's Model 9 DASD -- in a footprint one-third the size.
The Cascade Model 3 array has 90GB capacity and the same or higher performance than IBM's 3390 Model 3 DASD for most applications. It utilizes 3-1/2 inch disk drives. The Model 3 is also fully mirrored, and has better cost/performance because of the more advanced technology utilized by Cambex. A Cascade array's footprint, heat and power consumption are approximately one-third those of a 3390-3. Thus, the Cascade Model 3 is well suited for use in a demanding real-time, mission-critical applications. Because of the mirrored design used in the Model 3, Cambex enables users to mirror a full 180GB behind a 3990 controller.
In each instance, Cambex Cascade arrays are priced far less, for equivalent or better performance, than the IBM DASD products they replace. For example, a fully populated 90GB (mirrored) Cascade Array DASD Model 3 is priced at $345,000, compared to $530,000 for a 90GB RAID-5 RAMAC Array DASD. Similarly, a fully populated 272GB (mirrored) Cascade Array DASD Model 3X is priced at $795,000, which is comparable to 270 GB of RAID-5 RAMAC Array DASD priced at $1,590,000.
Datasequencing Architecture Adds Value
Cascade arrays are so-named because they embody an architecture call Datasequencing to achieve higher performance and availability with transparency in the IBM environment. The approach assures users that Cascade Array DASD will make use of the attributes of IBM software and controllers, now and as they are evolved by IBM, while at the same time providing performance advantages. Several Cascade advantages derived from Datasequencing are:
o Multi-level cache -- The Cascade array makes use of two series of cache memory systems, one in each disk drive, and another in each DASD controller card. This cylinder caching technique complements and extends the effectiveness of cache memory in the IBM 3990 Storage Control unit. In addition, it eliminates the often-serious "RPS misses" caused when large systems become overloaded.
o Contention avoidance -- The Cascade system provides full four-path DLSE (Data Level Selection enhancement) access to all volumes. Thus, any free path to the 3990 controller will be used, avoiding a major source of contention -- and potential performance degradation -- in environments with heavy user workloads.
Power protection-- Every Cascade system, as standard features, provides a unique power protection sequence that includes hot-pluggable power supplies, fans and AC sources-- all of them fully redundant.
Data protection-- Each volume in a Cascade system is a separate physical drive protected with a series of predictive failure monitors and alarms, ISO 9000 quality standards and on-line diagnostics and support. In addition, the entire array can be protected by dual copy, transient dual copy and other data mirroring options. Each Cascade drive is also hot pluggable and can be serviced nondisruptively while the DASD array remains in full service.
Makes Use of All 3990 Features
A major attribute of Cascade array strings is their ability to support all standard and extended features, functions and flexibility provided by the IBM 3990 Storage Control Product family. The most important of these are: support for ESCON and parallel channels at all data rates, record or track level caching, dual copy data protection, remote dual copy, concurrent copy, transient dual copy to monitor the array, anticipate drive failure and automatically invoke a dual-copy spare volume, and DASD fast-write to enhance write performance. In addition, all IBM DFSMS features, including data set placement and migration, are automatically supported, as is the use of all MVS, VM and other IBM operating system procedures-- assuring that user investment in operator training is fully protected and utilized.
To assist users in applying DASD, Cambex systems specialists help user configure Cascade arrays and Cambex 3990 controller cache memory to optimize storage subsystem performance for tasks from large batch jobs to real-time transaction processing. As the only independent manufacturer of large system cache products, Cambex provides this performance optimization at the lowest cost.
Substantial Error Protection
Cascade systems are designed for superior performance in IBM environments. Parallel processing arrangement of the disk drives, multi-level caching, predictive failure analysis and Cascade volume sparing and redundancy assure a level of continuous availability not possible with earlier generations of disk subsystems.
The systems also use advanced design and componentry to support high availability. For example, the compact canister configuration of a Cascade array subsystem enables a user to swap out canisters, as well as to expand easily, withing the smallest footprint in the industry. Cambex also provides early warning at each level of a Cascade array string to assure early detection and to prevent failure of a critical component. In addition, redundant power and cooling, dual line cords and hot pluggable drives and electronics assure continuous availability of user data. Use of transient dual copy further enriches the predictive maintenance capability inherent in the products's design.
Superior Environmental Attributes
The Cascade Array DASD Model 3 uses a 3-1/2-inch disk drive with a formatted capacity of 2.86GB each and rotational speeds of either 5400 or 7200 RPM. The Cascade Array DASD Model 3X makes use of a 5-1/4-inch disk drive with 8.5GB formatted capacity and a rotational speed of 5400 RPM. Both are faster than the IBM devices they are intended to replace- in terms of latency and seek times and average transfer and response times.
In addition, the Cascade products have superior environmental features. Maximum capacity per square foot of floor space is 4.5GB for the Model 3 and 14.3GB for the Model 3X. Each product occupies only 19 square feet of floor space, which is up to three times less than other DASD products.
Power consumption ranges from 1.4 to 1.6 KVA per unit-- up to one-fourth the power needed by comparable IBM units. Heat generation is only 4.7 to 5.4 Kbtu/hour, which is up to six times less than some competitive DASD products.
Cambex Corporation (Nasdaq: CBEX), headquartered in Waltham, Mass., has designed, manufactured and distributed a variety of direct access storage products for IBM's largest mainframe computers for over 25 years. The company is also the largest independent supplier of memory for IBM mainframes and RS/6000 systems, and RAID disk arrays and backup/restore products for the IBM RS/6000, SP2 and Sun computers and servers. -0- Note to Recipients: Cambex will hold a teleconference at 11:00 A.M. EDT Wednesday, April 12, to discuss this product launch. Please call 1-800-374 1394 at 10:55 A.M. if you wish to participate.
CONTACT: Cambex Corp.
Lou Finnegan, 617/890-6000, ext. 213