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HPE 3PAR StoreServ – Product Brief

Last updated December 11th, 2019 for end of year updates. Concise 7-page overview of the HPE 3PAR StoreServ product. Includes highlights, overview, usage, Eval(u)Scale and more. Download the free product brief now!


The HP 3PAR StoreServ System is a scale-out storage system that consists of several generational models.  The most recent models are the 9000 and 20000 systems.  Block access is supported on the 3PAR system using what HP calls ‘Personas’ which are embedded software instances within the 3PAR system. A file persona provides NAS capability with the StoreServ.  HP offers the 3PAR StoreServ 20000 as a high-end system with the same underlying architecture and embedded system software as the 9000.  The 3PAR StoreServ 9000 has a single, all-flash model, the 9450.

HP 3PAR’s design is a scale-out architecture using standard components grouped into multi-node clusters.  Each cluster of at least two controllers contains essentially three elements – host connectivity, cache and processing and back-end device connectivity. The clustered controller design allows the system to scale from two controller nodes up to an eight-controller configuration non-disruptively in the largest configuration.  Together, a pair of controllers as a node comprises four EIA rack units in a standard 19-inch cabinet.  Each controller pair provides full redundant failover and data access capability, with each controller being hot pluggable for serviceability.

Each controller in the storage system runs its own version of HP 3PAR’s proprietary InForm operating system which communicates with the others for redundancy and data movement.  The 3PAR StoreServ uses a 5th generation ASIC for storage processing including thin provisioning. The components of the HP 3PAR Storage Systems include:

  • Controller Nodes
  • Drive Chassis
  • Host and Drive Chassis Adapters
  • InForm operating system

Adaptive Flash Cache allows use of any installed SSDs as read cache extensions for DRAM and for controller add-in PCIe Optane (SCM) cards using NVMe protocol.

HPE Adaptive Data Reduction includes deduplication of data as part of an overall data reduction collection along with zero detect, data compression, and data packing.  Deduplication includes zero page elimination, thin provisioning along with snapshots and clones, and deduplication of data done inline.  Deduplication is done on a 16KB granularity for selected volumes designated as TDVV (thin deduped virtual volumes).  The 3PAR hardware ASIC is used to perform the hash code of the 16KB block, a bit for bit compare of data, and zero detect.  A feature called 3PAR Express Indexing does the initial table lookup of the hash code for detection of duplicate blocks.

Data compression uses functions of the Intel processor along with software to reduce data stored.  Data Packing uses 16KB containers to store data independent of block boundaries for greater efficiency.  With the Adaptive Data Reduction feature, HPE guarantees a 4:1 data reduction.


The HP 3PAR StoreServ system is an enterprise system that scales for use in both mid-range and high-end environments.  There are many advanced features including the Adaptive Data Reduction and thin reclamation that maximize space utilization.  The systems are targeted for block storage application requirements and storage consolidation needs and support file access as well with the file persona.

  • Characteristics
    • Performance – HPE is very open about publishing performance data and the top end 3PAR systems and the SPC website should be consulted for the latest numbers.
    • Availability – The 3PAR system uses multiple controllers in a cluster arrangement and has the ability to failover in the case of a controller failure.  Multiple redundancies of other components give the system high availability characteristics.
    • Replication for BC/DR – Remote copy for single or multi-volume copies (synchronous or asynchronous) and three-site DR and stretched cluster support is included as well as many-to-one data replication for consolidated data protection and archiving.
    • Deduplication, compression, and data packing to increase effective capacity.
    • Express Protect – direct backup to StoreOnce of 3PAR snapshots
  • Applications
    • The 3PAR StoreServ is targeted at performance demanding applications that use block I/O or file I/O in the enterprise space. Any general application can be used with the 3PAR system.
    • The features of snapshot and remote replication are required by tier one applications and the 3PAR system with the advanced features included make it a choice for those applications.
  • System environments
    • The HPE 3PAR is both a block storage system accessed using FC and iSCSI with standard drivers on host systems and a NAS system with support for NFS and CIFS/SMB3. There is a wide range of OS support for the system.
  • Deployment and Administration
    • Great attention has been made on making the system simple to install and administer. Customers that have storage administration experience can install the 3PAR system but in general support personnel would install the system.
    • The HPE 3PAR StoreServ Management Console is based on HPE OneView and is a web GUI. Users can use the Management Console to monitor all physical and logical components, manage volumes, view performance information (IOPS, throughput, and service times for a variety of components), and monitor multiple systems and Virtual Private Arrays all from the same Management Console. Unacknowledged alerts from systems are reported in an event window. It also acts as a dashboard for managing all HPE 3PAR tools.
  • InfoSight – SaaS analytics on storage system data
    • VM visibility
    • SRM type functions
    • Predictive failure and proactive service by HPE support

Evaluator Group EvaluScale: HPE 3PAR StoreServ – SAN Storage

Evaluator Group product review methodology “EvaluScale” assesses each product within a specific technology area.  The definitions of the criteria and explanations of how products are reviewed can be found in the  Evaluator Series Evaluation Guide. Download the product brief now to view the EvaluScale for this product.

Evaluator Group Opinion: Differentiating elements for HPE 3PAR StoreServ

HPE 3PAR is primarily a block storage system where the file system from TRU64 Unix has been added to support file access.  The block function is very advanced with hardware acceleration using a high-function ASIC.  Included is deduplication as part of the ASIC operation along with compression and data packing.  The NAS function is in early stages with many capabilities such as scaling yet to be modernized from the TRU64 Adaptive File System.

The 3PAR systems have a full set of advanced features expected in high-end enterprises and have a direct backup capability to a StoreOnce system.  These make the system very competitive with other enterprise systems from major vendors.  The scale-out implementation for block access allows up to four controllers for the 9000 and eight for the 20000.  This could probably scale larger but would be a cabling challenge with the system packaging.  Offering the 9000 as all-flash (9450) and leaving the 8000 series to support HDDs and hybrid is a good move by HPE.

The NAS capability has been advanced with important capabilities added.  HPE is committed to continuing enhancements.  Evaluator Group believes that HPE has an excellent storage solution with the 3PAR systems for block storage and customers can have confidence in continuing advances from HPE.

Introducing InfoSight, acquired with Nimble, was a great move in pushing the 3PAR system into storage analytics.  This will increase resiliency, improve support, and provide many SRM functions for customers.

NVMe protocol for SCM controller add-in PCIe cards for caching improves performance significantly.

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