What does BlueStor™ mean?
BlueStor™ is a trademarked product family name for JMR's new series of data storage products introduced in October 2007. The "Stor" part is obvious; the "Blue" is the result of thinking of "what word implies cool?" to describe that the products are cool-running due to enhanced thermal design.
What kind of data/signal cabling is required for BlueStor connectivity?
BlueStor™ products use two different kinds of I/O cabling, depending upon the product and application. The first is a standard external SAS cable which uses mini-SAS SFF (small form factor) connectors, typically SFF-8088s. The BlueStor™ SAS Expander JBOD uses the SFF-8088 for its I/O module (standard), and the BlueStor™ PeSAN™ RAID also uses the SFF-8088 as the SAS expansion port on its I/O module. Many SAS HBAs and RAID controllers use the same connector, so a standard SFF-8088 cable (both ends) is all you require for connectivity.
However, some HBAs and RAID controllers use a different small form factor mini-SAS connector, that being type SFF-8470: The Adaptec 4805SAS and LSI 8344 and 8480 RAID controllers, for example, use the SFF-8470 connector. In this case, a transition SAS cable is required, with SFF-8088 at one end and SFF-8470 at the other. JMR stocks these cables in popular lengths (1m and 2m) and also maintains an updated cable compatibility listing.
The BlueStor™ RAID powered by PeSAN™, as well as our PCI Express PeSAN™ Switch products, required external PCI Express cables, either 4-lane (x4) or 8-lane (x8) "iPass" types, also stocked in popular lengths by JMR. Photographs of these cables, showing them plugged into popular PCIe cards, are shown on our website under the "BlueStor™ Accessories" section.
Please note that although each BlueStor™ can manage up to 16 disk drives, only one connecting cable is needed. Also, concatenation, or the external connection of one BlueStor™ to another for the purpose of expanding capacity, is always possible using a second SAS cable. The concatenation port is standard on all the products.
What is the MTBF for BlueStor?
Exclusive of cooling fans which should be replaced every three years during routine Preventative Maintenance, each BlueStor™ product has an MTBF exceeding 100,000 hours.
What parts of BlueStor are considered CRUs (Customer Replaceable Units)?
Every BlueStor™ product uses customer replaceable cooling fans and power supply modules and provides for hot-swappable disk drives; in addition, in BlueStor™ products containing SAS Expander boards, those boards are customer replaceable plug-in cards; and the I/O modules in the SAS Expander and the PeSAN RAID products are both swappable, customer replaceable units. We have part numbers set up for all these items so they may be purchased as "spares." Consult your JMR sales representative or Tech Support for details.
What is the BlueStor warranty?
The product warranty is one (1) year including all JMR content as shipped by the factory. Reseller or customer installed accessories would carry their own warrantees.
Does BlueStor come with a mounting kit?
Yes, each BlueStor™ rack mount unit comes with a rack mounting kit for conventional 19" RETMA equipment cabinet mounting. The kit includes the hardware for assembly to the cabinet's vertical rails as well.
Do the disk drive carriers lock?
Each carrier latches into the rack mount enclosure; however there is no key lock mechanism.
How easy is it to install disk drives?
The BlueStor™ hot-swappable drive carriers are easy to use. They are molded with a rigidizing system built-in to assure the carriers maintain their form up until they're used. The disk drive installer simply clips out the little molded interior frame (four "clips" using a diagonal cutter or equivalent), inserts the disk drive and secures it with four screws. All screws are provided with the product. Integration consumes about one or two minutes per drive.
How do you replace suspect or failed modules?
Everything replaceable with BlueStor™ is hot-swappable and all items may be removed and replaced without using tools. Service instructions are included in the User Guide provided with the product on CD-ROM.
Is BlueStor™ a reseller product, end user product or OEM product?
BlueStor™ is a reseller or OEM product but is not an end-user product unless special arrangements are made. The accessorizing of BlueStor™ is done under written agreements.
What is the purpose of the BlueStor PCIe Extender?
A PCIe extender permits a user to extend the PCIe bus in his host computer, adding more PCIe slots externally. The BlueStor™ PCIe Extender is a standard 3U rackmount storage system (16 x 3.5" disk drives) providing redundant power and cooling like other BlueStor™ products, but instead of containing a mother board to create a server, it contains a 5-slot PCI Express backplane featuring one x8 PCIe slot and four x4 PCIe slots which may be populated by any PCIe compliant devices from RAID controllers to NICs. The host connection is a x8 PCIe cable to an adapter card we provide with this unit. The adapter card plugs into a PCIe slot in the host computer and provides one "external" x8 PCIe port for the cable connection to the Extender. (Note: The adapter card is not a bridge or bus converter; it only creates an "external" connector for the internal PCIe slot. It has no impact on the bus or performance.)
The Extender may be concatenated to another Extender to create even more external PCIe slots, or may be concatenated to a BlueStor™ PeSAN Switch or PeSAN RAID storage system.
One feature of PCI Express is the standard provides for "hot plugging" peripherals; the system need not be powered down to add or exchange PCIe cards.
What is JMR's core competency?
JMR ELECTRONICS INC. has been in business in the Los Angeles suburbs for 25 years. We started designing and manufacturing peripheral products for small computers including Macintosh and early PC products and evolved to making some of the earliest RAID storage products on the market in the early nineties. JMR offered the first SAF-TE compliant products, and some of the first SES compliant products ever produced, using proprietary code developed in-house. Our core competency today is creating modern designs, mostly for the data storage industry, which are leading edge technically and can be sold competitively into this very dynamic market.
Why all the focus on PCIe and SAS/SATA?
Well, PCIe is already the de facto I/O interconnect standard. It's well supported by an active Special Interest Group and has a robust roadmap for many years. PCIe supports all PCI-compatible software, is highly scalable and supports component hot-swap. We expect that in the future, servers will have an "external PCIe" slot available which will eliminate the need for even a host card.
SAS provides SCSI Enterprise performance and robustness using the SCSI command set but is serial switched architecture, reducing backplane and cabling complexities, eliminating the need for terminators and providing a great many benefits over previous generation storage buses. SATA drives are compatible with SAS and are very high capacity for low cost, allowing users to build large arrays using BlueStor™ with resulting system cost well under one dollar per GB.
Marrying PCIe to SAS is a logical evolutionary step. While PeSAN™ is unique in concept, it's technically very sound and the data storage industry is likely to follow in step, embrace this and continue to enhance the technology for everyone's benefit.
Where can I buy BlueStor?
We are setting up a new network of resellers and have a stocking distributor, ASI Corp. http://www.asipartner.com based in Silicon Valley with branch locations throughout the U.S. and the world. OEMs may feel free to contact us directly at email@example.com or by calling (818) 993-4801. As resellers are certified and trained they will be added to our website.
Are BlueStor products SCSI or Fibre Channel?
Neither. The BlueStor™ SAS/SATA Storage Server may be used as a host for external SCSI or Fibre Channel storage devices located outside the server, with the addition of a PCI HBA or RAID controller for SCSI or Fibre Channel. However, the whole BlueStor™ concept was to get away from those costly bus interfaces and embrace new technology for 2007 and beyond.
BlueStor™ products use the SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) bus internally to create a storage device interface that supports either SAS or SATA disk drives and attaches to a host computer using either a SAS or PCI Express (PCIe) interface. This reduces bottlenecks as well as reducing cost because there are no parallel to serial bridges involved at all and we can take advantage of the ever expanding bus width of PCI Express and its very robust roadmap. Using SATA-2 3 Gbps disk drives available "today" we can build pretty large scale serial-switched storage systems inexpensively without ever bridging to Fibre Channel at all! The advantages are wider bandwidth, higher performance, fewer components and lower cost.
What is PeSAN?
You may hear this term tossed around, beginning Q4 2007. PeSAN™ stands for "PCIe Storage Attached Network" and describes a technology patented by members of JMR's executive team. The patent describes the technology used to create a serial PCI (now called PCI Express, or PCIe) attachment directly to an external data storage system using a single cable connection. The result is a low-cost, very high performance storage attachment capable of creating large storage networks using low-cost PCIe switches. Some of the benefits of PeSAN™ include:
Platform independence: PCI is a standard that's evolved over many years and continues to evolve. Now with PCI Express (PCIe), we have a serial bus which is easily and inexpensively expandable while offering greater bandwidth than its predecessors.
Ubiquity: PCIe is now found in Windows servers, Macintosh servers, Sun servers and all forms of Linux servers. All can take advantage of the "plug & play" benefits of PCIe bus expansion without regard for operating system specifics, as PCIe remains an industry standard governed by PCI-SIG.
Life Cycle: PCI as the backbone by which devices are connected to processing units has been around more than fifteen years and while evolutionary isn't likely to become obsolete or superceeded in the foreseeable future. PCI is also very backwards compatible by design, set by the standard.
What is a SAS Expander?
Simply put, it's a device which allows a SAS initiator to address multiple SAS or SATA targets. JMR has developed our own BlueStor™ SAS Expander board which is a plug-in daughter board to our Storage Server, SAS JBOD and PeSAN™ RAID storage shelves, eliminating interconnecting cables in the data path to improve signal integrity and cooling air flow for the disk drives (by minimizing air flow obstacles).
Also, by making the SAS Expander circuit a plug-in board (with provisions for two such expanders per chassis to provide redundancy for mission-critical applications) we have taken the most critical active components and placed them on an easily swappable board as a "FRU" (Field Replaceable Unit).
What makes the BlueStor SAS Expander better than one from Brand X, Y or Z?
Great question! We feel the BlueStor™ 3U rackmount product is better because:
We mount the disk drives vertically, rather than horizontally, for improved backplane layout and resultant signal integrity and improved air flow by virtue of optimized cooling stream pattern through the backplane.
We use specially designed and molded impact-resistant, vibration-dampening resins to create ultra lightweight, high performance (latching and hot-swappable) disk drive carriers which are also low cost (for spares) and interchangeable among all BlueStor™ 3U rackmount products.
Using a plug-in SAS Expander in all BlueStor™ storage products we avoid any cabling in the data path, again optimizing signal integrity and improving air flow.
BlueStor™ products have provision for dual SAS Expanders, providing added resiliency for demanding applications using SAS disk drives.
BlueStor™ products are SES 2.0 (July 2007) compliant, as JMR has led the industry in enclosure management services and continues to do so.
BlueStor™ SAS Expander JBODs are field-upgradeable to PeSAN™ RAID systems by simply replacing one swappable plug-in module (no tools required; this is a 60-second upgrade) if user demands grow.
BlueStor™ SAS Expanders use the same major FRUs/spares as the PeSAN™ shelves do: Disk carriers, power supply modules, I/O modules, blower/cooling modules are all identical. BlueStor™ SAS Expander disk carriers are also the same as those used for the BlueStor™ Storage Server.
JMR, who created BlueStor™, has been designing and building RAID products for fifteen years; we're a founding member of the RAID Advisory Board (RAB) and have had award-winning disk array products over this time. Few providers have the background or experience we have.
What's special about the BlueStor Storage Server?
The BlueStor™ server is an application-optimized design whose goals included very high performance using high quality components at the lowest possible cost. It is difficult to balance high quality and low cost, but our resulting design met the goals well. To reduce cost and complexity, minimize bottlenecks and enhance cooling air flow, we use only one short cable in the data path from mother board to disk drives!
The BlueStor™ SAS/SATA backplane is passive and the active SAS Expander elements are contained on a removable, pluggable daughter board, accessible without tools. The server is available with either a standard high-performance Intel™ mother board featuring two dual-core Xeon™ CPUs or a Tyan™ mother board featuring two dual-core AMD Opteron™ CPUs. It's an Enterprise-class product, and unlike many "building block" products, always comes complete with all drive carriers, rack mounting kit and other features often not found on products in this price range.
What disk drives are compatible?
We have compatibility tested and qualified every 3.5" form factor SAS and SATA-2 disk drive currently on the market from all manufacturers. We have vibration tested BlueStor™ rack mount storage products with drives having spindle speeds from 7,200 to 15,000 rpm and find them all compatible.
What RAID controllers are compatible?
We have completed compatibility testing and confirmed the following as fully operational with BlueStor™ products as applicable:
Adaptec ASR3085, 4805SAS
LSI 8308, 8344, 8708, 8888 (all "ELP" versions)
Additionally, we are currently testing the following models:
In general, any compliant PCIe SAS HBA or RAID controller should work with BlueStor™; the reasons for compatibility testing are primarily to assure proper fit without interference from backside components, daughter boards, fans, connectors or other items that might exceed the typical low profile PCIe board envelope; and enclosure management services/GUI functionality. JMR works with all related technology providers to assure compatibility.
Note: Some controllers listed are only "externally ported," some are only "internally ported" and some have both internal and external SAS ports. Usability is based on the BlueStor™ product and application.