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NetApp All Flash FAS (AFF) – Product Brief

Last updated December 20th, 2021 for end of year updates. Concise 8-page overview of the features and functionality of the NetApp All Flash FAS. Includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!


The NetApp fabric-attached storage (FAS) series with SSDs only are offered as the All Flash FAS (AFF) systems and have different models. NetApp refers to fabric-attached storage systems as storage connected to hosts via any network. The FAS series is part of NetApp’s strategy to offer a network storage system that is capable of supporting both NAS and storage-area network (SAN) accessibility from a single storage pool. All Flash FAS (AFF) only supports SSDs and have embedded software changes to optimize use of flash.

The A800, released in May 2018, includes support for NVMe over Fabric (Fibre Channel with Gen 6 at 32Gb/s initially with Ethernet RDMA at 100Gb/s to follow) and NVMe devices, including support for 30TB SSDs. The AFF C190 system released in June 2019 is an all flash entry-level system targeted for channel sales. The A250, released in October 2020, has NVMe over Fabric support and NVMe connected SSDs.

In October 2019, NetApp released their midrange A400 model featuring end-to-end NVMe support and Pensando ASIC acceleration. The Pensando ASIC chips used in the A400 array to offload data reduction processing, such as compression and deduplication, from the main CPU. The A400 is the first AFF model to feature this type of hardware offloading.

NetApp offers AFF models, the A250 (an update from the A220), A400, A800, and A700, as SAN-only models which drop the AFF’s file functionality for a simplified block-only option. ONTAP 9.9.1 added support for all San AFF Arrays to scale out to 12 nodes, as well as in place conversion of AFF arrays to an all SAN configuration with minimal disruption.

The embedded operating software is called ONTAP and support scale-out clustering and advanced feature capabilities. ONTAP 9 replaces the earlier clustered Data ONTAP (cDOT) and 7-mode (non-clustered). A cloud version of ONTAP is also available.

NetApp ONTAP has scale out capability to allow systems to be configured to match the environment needs and to increase in both capacity and performance as required. The scale out capability with ONTAP allows scaling to 24 node nodes (the A250 can scale to 8 nodes) along with the capacity scaling for NAS and 12 nodes for block mode. A dual node NetApp system is called a High Availability configuration or HA pair.

Data reduction in the form of deduplication, compression, and compaction are supported on NetApp systems for primary data. The data reduction is performed inline and NetApp provides a 4:1 reduction guarantee. Compaction is filling the 4K allocation chunks with smaller blocks, which can improve storage utilization, especially with small files.

The FabricPool feature tiers snapshot data not in the active filesystem and inactive blocks from a primary storage system and SnapMirror or SnapVault data from a secondary storage system to either Amazon S3 or StorageGRID WebScale.

NetApp All Flash FAS (AFF) Product Brief Includes:

EvaluScale Product Review Methodology
Evaluator Group Commentary

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