What makes up a Nimble Storage array?

I have been asked a couple of times about what is inside a Nimble Storage array in terms of hardware.

People have assumed that there may have been proprietary components in a high performance array, but Nimble’s architecture is completely leveraged off a commodity chassis, off the shelf drives and multi-core Intel CPU’s.

Most of the hardware is best illustrated with some photos:

First up – the chassis. Nimble uses a SuperMicro unit with hot swap controllers, power supplies and fans: http://www.supermicro.com/products/nfo/sbb.cfm


This is the front view of the chassis (in this case a Nimble CS260G). It has twelve 3TB Seagate Enterprise NL-SAS drives (model: Constellation ES.2)

It also has four 300GB Intel 320 SSD’s for read cache purposes.

WP_20130511_010The rear of the chassis, showing the redundant power modules and controllers (with PCIe 10GbE adapters) and dual 1GbE NICs.

Looking at the controller itself:


It’s a Supermicro board (X8DTS-F), with 12GB Kingston ECC DDR3 memory and with what appears to be an Intel 55xx Nehalem family CPU (four core/8 threads). On the far back side are the PCIe slots. Far left is an LSI SAS adapter.


In the top PCIe slot, sits the NVRAM card (for fast write caching on inbound I/O). It appears to be an NVvault 1GB DDR2 module, that is built by Netlist:

WP_20130511_007In the bottom PCIe slot sits the 10GbE dual port network adapter, which from the model number would appear to be the PE210G2SPi9 component from Silicom:

That about wraps up the commodity components inside a Nimble array.

What is really apparent, it that cost effective, reliable, high performance/capacity commodity disks, multi-core CPU’s, standard chassis have enabled array vendors like Nimble (and others) to concentrate on engineering their software architecture around data services, file systems, user interfaces and seamless array metrics collection enabling support and data mining opportunities.