NetApp INSIGHT 2019 Las Vegas News: Introducing the NetApp AFF A400 Storage System

By | 29. October 2019

Today I am reporting live to you from NetApp INSIGHT 2019 in Las Vegas. As the first announcement shown at INSIGHT, I would like to introduce you to the new NetApp AFF A400 storage system.

The New NetApp AFF A400 in detail

The AFF A400 is the new mid-range platform. It has a height of four rack units and will not have any internal SSDs. The main reason for this is the location of the fans based on the front. This enables fan replacement without removing a controller and thus without downtime (or failover).

NetApp relies on the latest Intel Cascade Lake processor generation for the AFF A400 and offers two onboard connectivity choices in the initial configuration. One can choose either 4x 25 GbE (SFP28) ports onboard per controller, or 4x 16Gb FC (SFP+) ports onboard per controller.

To extend host connectivity, four additional PCI slots are available per controller.

For the classification of the AFF A400, here is a comparison to the “old” AFF A300.

AFF A300AFF A400
CPU Cores3240th
Max SSDs384480
PCI Slots410

As you can easily see, NetApp has upgraded the hardware specs compared to the AFF A300 in almost all areas.

Yes, I already know what you are thinking now, “Yes, new hardware, more CPU, more SSDs, etc. Boooring!”

Introduction Of The Offload Engine in AFF A400

An absolute novelty in the AFF environment is the introduction of an offload engine card.

In PCI Slot 3 there is an offload engine card installed in the AFF A400, which is also used for the cluster interconnect traffic. So you have more free ports onboard.

What’s really special about the card is that it has a dual-port ASIC that takes over the storage efficiency tasks.

AFF A400 Offload Engine Card

Thus, tasks such as compression, decompression, and fingerprint calculation for deduplication are taken over by this card and no longer burden the CPUs of the controllers.

I’m curious to see how this will affect the performance of the box overall!

As with the AFF A320, the HA interconnect ports have been moved from the backplane to the outside. I do not want to speculate at this point about the possible applications of this innovation. 😉

AFF A400 Backend Cabling Two-Node Switchless Cluster

Fabric Metro Cluster functionality is expected in a future ONTAP release. NetApp takes extra time to ensure the quality of its MetroCluster products, so they are not available from the start of the AFF A400.

As soon as I learn more, I’ll report about it, of course.

Best regards

DISCLAIMER: This post represents my personal observations and is not officially by NetApp or other authorized. Subject to misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

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