Half a Petabyte in 4U

OK, so first up, I flat up lied; it’s only 480TB. But that’s how storage marketing goes, right?

I just caught mention of Dell’s MD3060e Dense Enclosure, an insane 4U storage enclosure that accommodates 60x 3.5″ hard drives. (Five trays of 12 disks each.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 11.39.02 PM

Here’s one on eBay, with 60x 4TB disks for a mere $38,999.

I also learned in the past week about shingled magnetic recording, a new technology for spinning magnetic disks that allows much greater density, at the cost of some stranger semantics on how data is written. It’s how Seagate already has an 8TB drive on the market, at an oddly low price.

I’ve also been playing around with ZFS (on Linux) lately. I’m building a file server with 3x 6TB drives (RAIDz1, akin to RAID 5), and 2x 512GB SSDs for cache/ZIL. I have a lot of kinks to work out still, but the idea is that ‘popular’ content will get auto-cached on the SSDs, backed by magnetic storage. A modest bit of SSD space is set aside for ZIL, where writes forcing a sync can be written to SSD and then later written to spinning disks. I suspect that the “SSD as cache in front of slower magnetic storage” paradigm will grow in popularity until SSDs become cheap enough that magnetic storage is entirely obsolete. Things like shingled drives would seem to make that even more important.

I feel like this would be a really exciting combination to play around with, if only I had the money and the need for almost a half-petabyte of storage.

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