HPE trickles out more Primera hardware specs

HPE has opened the door on Primera’s hardware configuration – a little.

Field CTO Nick Triantos says in a LinkedIn article that Primera is based on a mostly re-designed 3PAR OS which does not run in existing 3PAR systems.

Primera is the only tier 0 array he claims, that features;

  • Symmetric Active/Active on the front-end and back-end
  • Customer installable (Rack to Apps in 20 mins)
  • Customer HW upgradable/serviceable (Nodes, Adapters, Drives, Enclosures, Power Supplies, I/O Modules, Cables, SFP)
  • Data in-place HW upgrades
  • User driven SW updates (5 mins)
  • AI Driven intelligence with embedded algorithms and recommendations from InfoSight
  • Multiple HW Acceleration engines (ASIC) per node with point-to-point non-blocking connectivity for massive parallelisation required for NVMe and NVM-oF
  • No need for separate Service Processor
  • Onboard Element Manager
  • Sea of data sensors – New SW design allows for a ton of sensors for monitoring, alerting, hot spot and IO outlier detection, system headroom, and recommendations.

Triantos supplies some hardware details, saying there are three all flash models; A630, A650, A670, and three hybrid ones; C630, C650 and C670, which he calls a Converged flash system; weird.

The A630 and C630 are 2U x 24-slot boxes containing 2 nodes. The A650/A670 and C650/C670 are 4U boxes which can scale from 2  to 4 nodes. The 630 chassis can contain 650 and 670 nodes.

Data-in-place upgrades are supported from a 630 to a 650 (2U or 4U) and a 670 (2U or 4U.)

The A630 and C630 have a single ASIC per node while the A and C 650 and 670 systems have 4 ASICs per node.

Triantos says ASICs and scale-out architectures are becoming very important to drive consistent, predictable performance at scale for mission critical apps. The main bottlenecks to array performance are CPU and DRAM, so ASIC acceleration is necessary.

The Primera cache is unified, with no separate control and  data caches. The system will dynamically adjust the Read/Write cache allocation based on workload demands.

RAID 6 is the only drive failure protection option. As capacity is added the Primera OS dynamically changes the RAID configuration, while prioritising user I/O over internal tasks.

Primera supports deduplication as well as compression. The Primera OS will run dedupe and compression in the X86 CPUs, the ASIC or the QAT; whichever best supports consistent performance under load.

Virtual storage volumes can be thinly-provisioned or thinly-provisioned with deduplication and compression turned on.

Triantos says Primera, with its so-called Timeless Storage business model, has all inclusive SW packaging, flat support pricing forever, a node refresh every 3 years without the need to renew Timeless for 3 more years, media trade-in credits, and a 30 day satisfaction guarantee as well as a 100 percent data availability guarantee.

HPE will cough up 20 percent of the initial purchase price every time data is not available. That’s pretty clear cut.

ASIC extra

We were told a little more about the gen 6 ASIC in Primera. It features a lot of parallelisation. This is needed to work with new media that can benefit from it without inundating the CPUs.

And that means, we understand, NVMe-over Fabric accessed drives and storage-class memory.


Triantos does not provide any performance data comparing existing 3PAR systems to the new Primera ones. This suggests that any performance increase is not that impressive.

He also does not say Primera supports storage-class memory now or NVMe-over-Fabrics access. Blocks & Files thinks Pure Storage is way ahead of HPE’s Primera with its NVMe-oF support, as is IBM with Storwize and NetApp with its Max Data technology.

NVME-oF is obviously coming, but when? Why won’t HPE say?

Dell EMC has its Midrange.Next unified mid-range coming and Primera is in place to answer that.

HPE will be hoping its ASIC acceleration negates these technology differences for now, and that its InfoSight management beats other suppliers’ offerings, by making Primera far simpler and inexpensive to operate.