HPE Primera is a logical evolution of the HPE 3PAR StoreServ system with advances in the operating environment software, hardware architecture with multiple ASICs, and packaging. Data services offered with Primera are basically the same as with 3PAR. Notably, all advanced features are included in the base price with Primera. The file persona available with 3PAR is not offered with Primera.
HPE Primera is a scale-out block storage system that has three models. The architecture has up to four nodes with the internode communication handled by custom ASICs across a backplane. The larger models can scale from two to four nodes. The smallest model has two controllers, each with two processors (Intel Skylake) and four ASICs and 24 devices in the basic unit. The other models have two or four controllers and 48 devices. Systems scale larger with the addition of device enclosures. Model numbers prefixed with an “A” are all flash systems and with a “C” prefix can have HDDs installed.
Different from 3PAR is the Primera embedded operating environment which runs functions as independent “services” that can be updated and restarted without having to reboot the system. While not running Docker containers, the independent services are sometimes described as “containerized.” Each controller is independently running its own embedded environment with services.
Adaptive Flash Cache allows use of any installed SSDs as read cache extensions for DRAM.
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). A Primera ASIC is used to perform the hash code of the 16KB block, a bit for bit comparison of data, and zero detect. A feature called Express Indexing does the initial table lookup of the hash code for detection of duplicate blocks.
Data compression uses functions of the Intel processor or an FPGA depending on the workload 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 Primera system is an enterprise system that scales for use in both mid-range and high-end environments. HPE characterizes it as a Tier 0 system but it is a complete enterprise offering. There are many advanced features including the Adaptive Data Reduction and thin reclamation that maximize space utilization. Primera systems are targeted for block storage application requirements and storage consolidation needs.
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Primera is a logical evolution of 3PAR and HPE has not only advanced the product with introduction of technology and design updates, they have greatly improved the administration and added internal AI for optimization. The advances are needed to continue in a very competitive area. Not offering the file persona is also a very good decision since most customers in the high end of the enterprise market usually have a specific system for file and/or object storage.
Continuing with the advanced features is smart as well. These are expected capabilities, extensively used, and highly valuable. The maturity means there is low risk, and for those customers that have 3PAR, there will be no operational practice changes.
The scaling from two to four nodes will cover needs for enterprises as well. Using NVMe with flash and Optane devices yields tremendous performance improvements over earlier generations and the hardware intensive architecture with custom ASICs gives HPE a performance advantage.
Continuing advancement with InfoSight will increase the resiliency of the Primera systems and contribute to validating the 100% availability guarantee that will give a 20% of purchase price credit towards a future purchase or upgrade if not maintained. Management through the dashboards is made much simpler for a single system.
The Primera systems will eventually replace the 3PAR systems over time as a much improved enterprise storage system.