Infortrend EonStor A24F-R2224 review

Price when reviewed
We’ve seen some amazing SATA SAN systems of late, with Nexsan’s SATABeast still holding the record with its 42-disk capacity. Although not on the same scale, the latest EonStor offers an impressive storage proposition with support for up to 24 SATA hard disks. With the latest 750GB drives installed, you’re looking at a capacity of over 17TB.

Fault tolerance is particularly good, as the chassis is supplied with a pair of RAID controllers installed in removable sleds. Each comes with 512MB of cache memory and a large li-ion battery pack. Three hot-swap power supplies are located at the base, and you get a pair of redundant fan modules. For SAN connectivity, the chassis provides eight mini-GBIC ports that accept 2Gb/sec FC SFP modules. Redundant links are a possibility, as the ports are separated into two groups, with each one serviced by a different I/O controller. The system uses an internal hub that loops equivalent ports in each group together so host access is preserved no matter which controller goes down.

The EonStor’s chassis is extremely well engineered and the disk carriers are reassuringly solid. We liked the fact that the battery modules can be easily removed without having to disturb the main sled. One of the handles at the front is also home to a useful LCD panel and operator control pad.

For testing, we were supplied with a full complement of 500GB Western Digital RE2 drives, but note these aren’t included in the price of the review system. General management and configuration is carried out from the Java-based RAIDWatch utility, which can handle multiple arrays. Logical drives are easily created and an Instant-ready feature means the array will be ready to use in a few minutes, as all formatting is carried out in the background. Multiple logical drives can be gathered together and presented as logical volumes. Online expansion and array migration are also supported.

For performance testing, the EonStor was installed on our resident 2Gb/sec FC SAN constructed from a QLogic SAN Connectivity Kit. We created a pair of 12-drive RAID6 arrays, assigned each one to a different controller and used Windows Server 2003 test clients equipped with 2Gb/sec QLogic HBAs. Using Iometer configured with two disk workers, 64KB transfer request and 100% sequential reads, we saw one direct-attached server return a speedy 183MB/sec average transfer rate. We then connected a second test system to the other controller, and with Iometer running on both systems we saw a cumulative throughput of no less than 367MB/sec – near wire speed for 2Gb/sec FC connections.

SATA is fast becoming the disk interface of choice for storage applications where capacity and cost are high priorities. The EonStor A24F-R2224 delivers on both these counts, but also provides high levels of fault tolerance, good performance and classy build quality.

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