The Hardware Inside B2 Cloud Storage – Storage Pod 5.0

November 10th, 2015

Storage Pod 5.0

To get the latest updates and information
on ALL of the Storage Pod versions. Click Here.

A couple of months ago we gave you a sneak peek as we designed and prototyped our next generation Storage Pod. We’re done, and Storage Pod 5.0 is here and it is faster, beefier, easier to assemble, easier to maintain, and less expensive than Storage Pod 4.5. It is also the hardware that enables us to offer our newly announced B2 Cloud Storage for just $0.005/GB/month. As always, the Storage Pod design is open source and we’ve included the instructions and diagrams you’ll need to build your very own Storage Pod 5.0.

Building for the Future

Storage Pods have always been designed and built to provide Backblaze with low-cost data storage. When we decided that we were going to offer B2 Cloud Storage as the lowest cost cloud storage in the world, we doubled down on making our storage infrastructure more durable and more performant without raising the cost of storing data. Step one was designing and deploying the Backblaze Vault architecture to improve durability. Step two was designing and building Storage Pods that were more performant and lower cost to use in Vaults. That’s why we built Storage Pod 5.0

What’s New in Storage Pod 5.0

When you look at Storage Pod 5.0, nearly everything, inside and out, looks different than previous versions. Here’s Tim, our Chief Cloud Officer (CCO), to walk you through the changes…

We’ve grouped the changes as follows: performance, drive support, backplane tray, power, chassis, and fans. Let’s take a look at each.

Performance – We upgraded the motherboard, CPU, and SATA cards, and increased the memory to 32GB. Let’s compare:

Storage Pod 4.5 Storage Pod 5.0
Motherboard Supermicro MBD-X9SCL-F Supermicro MBD-X9SRH-7TF
Networking 1GB on Motherboard 10GB on Motherboard
CPU Intel i3-2120 (Dual-core) Intel Xeon E5-1620 V2 (Quad-core)
Memory 8GB DDR3-1333 32GB DDR3-1600
SATA Cards PCIe x1 (500MB/s) PCIe x2 (1000MB/s)
 
The need for speed…
Backblaze Vaults combine twenty physical Storage Pods into one virtual chassis. The Vault software implements our own Reed-Solomon encoding to spread data shards across all twenty pods in the Vault simultaneously, dramatically improving durability. This drove the need for 10GB networking in Vault pods so they could “talk” quickly amongst themselves. This also drove the need for more processing power and memory.

With the increased cost of making Storage Pod 5.0 more performant to support Backblaze Vaults, the task was to reduce the costs of the other components. The remaining changes were implemented to reduce the combination of manufacturing, assembly, and maintenance costs.

The drawings/specifications for each of the following Storage Pod components are available for download as a 42MB ZIP file. Depending on the component there are 2D, 3D and/or STEP files available.

Drive Supports – The drive grids and 15-drive-wide drive lids have been replaced by a combination of Drive Support Beams, plastic Drive Guides, and shorter Drive Lids which cover 5 drives instead of 15. These components work together to hold each hard drive firmly in place during operation and dampen vibrations while enabling easier installation and removal. Slits have also been cut in the Drive Lids so that the drive serial numbers can be read without removing the lid.

Drive Supports Drive Lids
Drive Supports in Chassis Drive Lids (Top View)

There are two plastic Drive Guides for each hard drive in the Storage Pod, 90 total. A guide attaches to the side of each drive into the mounting screw holes. Once attached, the drive slides into Drive Supports to guide the drive directly into the socket on the backplane.

Drive Guide (manufactured)Drive Guides (3D printed) Drive Supports
Drive Guides Drive Supports (Top View)

The color of a given Drive Guide is not important. As shown above, the orange Drive Guide was 3D printed and the black Drive Guide was made by a 3rd party plastics manufacturer.

Backplane Tray – New to Storage Pod 5.0 is the Backplane Tray. The tray holds the power and SATA cable wiring and the backplanes are attached to the tray, creating a modular component which can be preassembled then installed and removed as a unit. This reduces assembly time as well as downtime caused by the replacement of a bad backplane or wire.

Backplane Tray 1 Backplane Tray 2
Backplane Tray (Front View) Backplane Tray with backplane

As part of the preassembly process, the SATA and power cables are run in a specific pattern. Here are the cable routing diagrams for both the Power and SATA cables, as well as which SATA cables connect to which SATA cards on the motherboard.

Power – In Storage Pod 5.0 we qualified and now use the EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G1 Power Supply. This reduces the cost of the power supply component by nearly 50%. There are two Power Supplies, each with there own wiring harness. We modularized each wiring harness into two assemblies. The first assembly, the pigtail, goes from the power supply to a 20- or 24-pin Molex connector and the second assembly goes from the Molex connector to the individual backplanes. To use an alternate power supply, you replace the pigtail assembly so it has the correct connections for the given power supply. The specifications for these cables are listed later in this post.

power supplies - back power-supplies-top
Power Supplies (Back View) Power Supplies (Top View)

Chassis – The chassis is still a red 4U box, but it looks different. First, we changed the design to support recommendations for minimizing electromagnetic emissions. Second, we changed the faceplate to improve air flow-through with our cool laser-cut logo. Third, we made the two removable covers tool-less, creating covers that slide and latch into place. This removed the need to remove/insert screws to access the drive bay or motherboard bay, saving time during assembly and during maintenance (replacing a failed drive, for example).

Tool-less cover latch Tool-less cover tab
Tool-less Cover – Latch Tool-less Cover – Tab
 
Missed it by that much!
Storage Pods on their rails have always been almost 7 inches high, a snug fit into a 4U space which is 7 inches high. During the 5.0 design Scrum, we first designed the lids to use thumbscrews to secure the covers. Using thumbscrews meant we had to use 20 gauge steel for the covers. We discovered that when we stacked multiple 5.0 Storage Pods in a rack, they were too snug. The thicker cover added too much height. To solve the problem, slide and latch covers made of 24 gauge steel were designed, built, and tested – they worked. They secured the covers, were easier to install and remove, and were less expensive. And yes, we could now stack multiple Storage Pods in a rack.

Fans – About a year ago, we took a group of Storage Pods and removed the 3 fans at the end, leaving just three middle fans to cool the unit. We placed these pods into production and monitored the temperature of the hard drives utilizing the SMART stats we take each day. Nothing changed, as the drives stayed cool and didn’t fail at higher rates. In Storage Pod 5.0 we only use 3 fans which are now thinner (25mm vs 38mm) and lower in power than before. We also created a “Fan Module” to hold all three fans in one bracket. After removing the covers, it takes just 2 screws to remove the new fan module. This speeds up assembly and reduces downtime during replacement of a failed fan. It also lowers the overall cost of the chassis.

fan tray

Rails – Or should we say tool-less rails. We redesigned the rails to be tool-less as you can see in below. They are easier to install and remove, and are less expensive to manufacturer then the previous type of rails. Here are the specifications if you’d like to make yourself a pair.

Rails - Old Design Rails - Tool-less Design
Rails – Old Design Rails – Tool-less Design

What We Didn’t Change

To the delight/dismay of the Reddit community, we did not change the on-off switch. Call us sentimental fools, but we continue to shell out the big bucks for our special blue-light switch. Oh, we looked at a few others; we even tried a couple out, but in the end we stuck with the one we had. OK, it actually has a lot to do with wiring and what type of power is needed versus what’s available. But let’s just say we like the blue light and leave it at that.

We also did not change the 5-port backplanes. The SATA 3 (6 Gbit/s) backplane speed provides the throughput needed at the right price, so there was no need to change or upgrade this item. If there is a place for improvement, it is the PCIe bus. Our current PCIe x2 SATA cards utilize 1 PCIe lane for 2 SATA ports. We are looking at different strategies to remove this last potential bottleneck.

The Cost

There are actually three different prices for a Storage Pod. Here are those three costs of an 180TB Storage Pod 5.0 system, including 45 Seagate (4 TB) ST4000DM000 drives, for the scenarios noted:

  1. $7,974.44 – The cost for Backblaze, given that we purchase 300+ Storage Pods per year.
  2. $8,493.11 – The cost for you to build one Storage Pod by buying the parts and assembling it yourself.
  3. $10,439.10 – The cost to you to purchase one already assembled Storage Pod from a third-party supplier and then purchase and install the hard drives yourself.

These prices do not include packaging, shipping, taxes, VAT, etc.

Below are the Backblaze costs for building the different Storage Pod versions.

Storage Pod Version
  1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 4.5 5.0
Backblaze Cost 7,867 7,394 7,568 9,305 8,688 7,974
Drive Size (TB) 1.5 3 3 4 4 4
Total Storage 67 135 135 180 180 180
Cost per GB 0.117 0.055 0.056 0.052 0.048 0.044
 

As you can see in the table above, Storage Pod 5.0 is less expensive per GB to build and fill with hard drives than all its predecessors. The entire system, fully populated with 180TB worth of hard drives, costs Backblaze just over $0.044 per GB, and that includes assembly costs (labor). In addition, with the price of larger capacity hard drives starting to move down the pricing curve, the cost per GB for these hard drives should continue to decrease and drive down the cost of each Storage Pod we build.

Why Did the Cost Go Down?

Before we celebrate the drop in the Storage Pod cost, let’s take a look at why it decreased. Was it market forces at play driving down the per GB cost of the hard drives? Or did the cost of the Storage Pod chassis and components drop, meaning our design efforts using Agile and Scrum actually made a difference? Here’s the breakdown of the costs (labor not included) comparing Storage Pod 4.5 with Storage Pod 5.0. Remember, these are Backblaze costs based on our purchasing 300+ Storage Pods per year.

Storage Pod 4.5 Storage Pod 5.0 Change
Chassis and Components $2,563.31 $2,349.44 -8.3%
Drives (45 Seagate 4TB) $5,850.00 $5,175.00 -11.5%
Totals $8,413.31 $7,524.44 -10.6%%
The verdict: Both elements helped drive down the cost of Storage Pod 5.0.

Given that Storage Pod 5.0 is faster and beefier than 4.5, and given the expected decrease in assembly and maintenance costs, the time spent designing Storage Pod 5.0 using Agile seems to have been worth the effort. Based on our calculations, we estimate the time to recover our investment in the process to be 8-10 months. That includes the startup costs and learning curve associated with Agile and Scrum.

Buying a Storage Pod

Backblaze does not sell Storage Pods or parts, but below are a couple of our favorite providers, each offering different Storage Pod configurations.

    Backuppods.com – They have partnered with Evolve Manufacturing to deliver Backblaze-inspired Storage Pods based on the 4.5 and 5.0 designs. Evolve Manufacturing is the contract manufacturer used by Backblaze for Storage Pod 5.0. Here’s a summary of what you’ll find at backuppods.com inspired by Storage Pod 5.0. Visit www.backuppods.com for pricing and terms.

    • 5.0 Vault Pod – The fully assembled and tested Vault Storage Pod (no hard drives).
    • 5.0 Vault Kit – Includes the chassis and all components needed to build your own Vault Storage Pod (no hard drives, unassembled).
    • 5.0 Backbone Kit – Includes the chassis, backplanes, SATA cards, cables, screws, power supply wiring assemblies, and hard drive guides (unassembled).
    • 5.0 Chassis – This package include the chassis, drive beams, drive lids, drive guides (90 each), backplane tray, fan tray, and tool-less lids (unassembled).

    Backuppods also sells Storage Pod 4.5 chassis, kits, and fully assembled systems (hard drives not included).

    45drives.com – They are a subsidiary of Protocase and make Backblaze inspired Storage Pods based on the 3.0 and 4.0 Storage Pod designs. 45drives.com currently builds Storage Pods based on their direct-wire design. They offer multiple versions of their Storinator line starting at $3,350 for a base 45-drive system, with a Storage Pod 5.0 comparable system costing $4,600 – $5,000 (not including hard drives).

Building Your Own Storage Pod

If you are so inclined, you can build your own Storage Pod.

  1. Start by reviewing the drawings/specifications for the various components. We’ve created a ZIP file (42MB) containing the following drawings and specifications to help you out:
    • Chassis_edrawings_file_P5.EASM
    • Pod5_Chassis-2D.PDF
    • Pod5_Chassis_STEP_file.STEP
    • PSU1_power_to_backplane_P5.pdf
    • PSU1_pigtail_P5.pdf
    • PSU2_power_to_backplane.pdf
    • PSU2_pigtail_P5.pdf
    • Power_cable_routing_P5.pdf
    • PSU1_all_connections_P5.pdf
    • PSU2_all_connections_P5.pdf
    • SATA_cable_routingP5.pdf
    • sata_card_motherboard_locations_P5.pdf
    • Drive_guide_2D_P5.PDF
    • Drive_guide_Solidworks_drawing_file_p5.SLDDRW
    • Drive_guide_Solidworks_partsfile.SLDPRT
    • Drive_guide_Solidworks_exchange.STL
    • Rail_left_2D_P5.PDF
    • Rail_right_2D_P5.PDF
    • Rail_left_STEP_file_p5.STEP
    • Rail_right_STEP_file_p5.STEP

    If you are still interested, here’s where you can download the ZIP file containing these files.

  2. Next, you’ll want to download the Storage Pod 5.0 Build Book. This guide will walk you through the assembly process for Storage Pod 5.0.
  3. Finally, you can gather up all the parts you’ll need to build your Storage Pod. You can use the Parts List in Appendix A as a shopping list to buy the components needed, although you may find it easier to buy kits (assembled or as parts) from the vendors noted above.

As a reminder, Backblaze does not sell Storage Pods, and the design is open source, so we don’t provide support or warranty for people who choose to build their own Storage Pod. That said, if you do build your own, we’d like to hear from you. In the meantime, you can find fellow Pod builders at www.openstoragepod.org and www.45drives.com/community.

What’s Next?

As part of using the Agile design methodology, we are continually working on improving the Storage Pod design. So even though Storage Pod 5.0 is here, we’re already working on improvements. Here are a few of the items we are working on:

  • Using only one power supply
  • Upgrading the motherboard to the Supermicro X11 line
  • Upgrading the CPU
  • Extending the chassis to support 60 drives
  • Adding a hot spare data drive
  • And (dare we say), replacing the power switch…

As new ideas make it into production, we’ll let you know.

Appendix A: Storage Pod 5.0 Parts List

Below is the list of parts you’ll need to build your own Storage Pod 5.0. The prices listed are “street” prices, meaning you should be able to find these online or from manufacturer in quantities sufficient to build one Storage Pod. Good luck and happy building.

Item
Qty
Price
Total
Notes
4U Custom Chassis
Includes case, supports, trays, etc.
1
$865.00
$865.00
1
Power Supply
EVGA Supernova NEX750G
2
$129.90
$259.80
On/Off Switch
FrozenCPU ELE-272 LED Power Switch
1
$24.95
$24.95
Case Fan
FAN AXIAL 120X25MM VAPO 12VDC
3
$20.82
$62.46
Fan Connection Housing
1 X 3 WITH RAMP AND RIB
6
$0.13
$0.78
Dampener Kits
Power Supply Vibration Dampener
2
$3.55
$7.10
Soft Fan Mount
AFM03B (2 tab ends)
12
$0.36
$4.32
Motherboard
Supermicro MBD-X9SRH-7TF-O (MicroATX)
1
$539.50
$539.50
CPU Fan
DYNATRON R13 1U Server CPU FAN
2
$39.89
$39.89
CPU
Intel XEON E5 -1620 V2 (Quad Core)
1
$350.00
$350.00
8GB RAM
PC3-12800 DDR3-1600MHz 240-Pin
4
$89.49
$357.96
Port Multiplier Backplanes
5 Port Backplane (Marvell 9715 Chipset)
9
$43.85
$394.63
2, 4
SATA III Card
4-PORT PCIe Express (Marvell 9235 chipset)
3
$54.81
$164.43
2, 4
SATA III Cable
SATA cables RA-to-STR 1M locking from Nippon Labs
9
$4.99
$44.91
3, 4
Boot Drive
500GB 5400RPM SATA 2.5″ SATA II
1
$53.05
$53.05
5
Cable Harness – PSU1
24-pin – Backblaze to Pigtail
1
$31.70
$31.70
4
Cable Harness – PSU2
20-pin – Backblaze to Pigtail
1
$26.39
$26.39
4
Cable Pigtail – PSU1
24-pin – EVGA NEX750G Connector
1
$16.18
$16.18
4
Cable Pigtail – PSU2
20-pin – EVGA NEX750G Connector
1
$14.53
$14.53
4
Screw: 6-32 X 3/16 Phillips PAN SST ROHS
3
$0.37
$1.11
Screw: 6-32 X 1/4 Phillips PAN ZPS
9
$0.02
$0.18
Screw: 4-40 X 5/16 Phillips PAN ZPS ROHS
45
$0.02
$0.90
Screw: 6-32 X 1/4 Phillips 100D Flat ZPS
40
$0.10
$4.00
Screw: M3 X 5MM Long Phillips, HD
4
$0.06
$0.24
Standoff: M3 X 5MM Long Hex, SS
4
$2.69
$10.76
Standoff: Round 6-32 X 1/4 Dia X 5/16 Lng
1
$1.08
$1.08
Foam Tape, 1″ x 50′ x 1/16 in black
.5
$7.66
$3.83
Foam strip for fan plate – 1/2″ x 17″ x 3/4″
1
$0.67
$0.67
Cable Tie, 8.3″ x 0.225″
3
$0.19
$0.57
Cable Tie, 4″ length
10
$0.024
$0.24
Plastic Drive Guides
90
$0.28
$24.84
4
4TB Hard Drives
45
$115.25
$5,186.25
 
 
Total
$8,493.11

NOTES:

  1. List price on backuppods.com, does not include tax, packaging, handing, and shipping
  2. Sunrich and CFI make the recommended backplanes and Sunrich and Syba make the recommended SATA Cards. These items may be purchased via Arrow (a distributor).
  3. Nippon Labs makes the recommended SATA cables.
  4. These parts may be purchased as part of a Backbone Kit or as part of a Vault Kit from backuppods.com.
  5. The Boot Drive can be any 2.5 or 3.5 inch internal drive.
Tim Nufire

Tim Nufire

Chief Cloud Officer and co-founder - While Tim stays busy fussing with the Backblaze cloud, designing Storage Pods and managing Operations, he'd much rather be taking Grommit, his Goldendoodle, for a walk.
Tim Nufire

Latest posts by Tim Nufire (see all)

  • Petr Valkoun

    Question: why do you use 2.5″ HDD for boot instead of some USB drive or SATA DOM (in RAID-1 preferably) like many NAS distros are designed? it would be cheaper and more reliable than traditional magnetic drive

  • Christina Hunt

    Quality Circuit Assembly has been providing electronic contract manufacturing solutions delivered to its customers via strategic business partnerships.
    Electronic manufacturing

  • Thorsten Staerk

    Great stuff. What are you exporting, FC, FCoE, iSCSI or NFS?

  • Shonk

    I use two marvell 9230’s in my home servers they work great
    3 drives directly connected to sata
    1 x 4 port esata 600 port multiplier enclosure
    total 7 drives per marvell 9230
    how are you getting around the max 1 port multiplier per card
    with a maximum of 7 total drives

    I e-mailed syba i have a si-pex40058 and asked if they do any which allow more than 7 drives
    and they said no

  • Falcon89

    Why do you boot from a $50 (retail) HDD? Wouldn’t an SSD or USB drive be cheaper, faster (once installed), and faster (during setup- especially USB drives that can be cheaply ordered pre-programmed)? Do you actually use all 500GB of the boot drive? If not, how much do you use?

    I know you mentioned that your cost for the power switch with the blue light is actually below $24.95, but, AFAIK, you never mentioned how cheap you get it. Are you able/willing to share that? While you joke that it is the blue light, you also mention that it meets other requirements that many alternative don’t meet, what are those requirements?

    Do you foresee a need for a more powerful processor in the near future?

    Also, someone mentioned the idea of a pod with a more powerful CPU and “dumb” pods without motherboards. It seems like it would be more efficient, but I assume that if it
    was, you would do it. So, I guess I really am asking why it isn’t
    better.

    You seem to spend a lot on the motherboard and CPU. The ASRock C2550D4I is quad core 2.4GHz (they also have the ~$400 C2750DI that is octo-core) with 12 SATA connections (8 SATA III, 4 SATA II- if five drives on one SATA II is too slow, you could run 40 drives on 8 SATA III and the other five could share the SATA II or direct wire and drop to 44 drives), passive CPU cooling (one less moving part to break) and the CPU is pre-installed. It only has dual GbE, but you could always add a 10GbE PCIe card if needed. Is there something that the current motherboard and CPU offer that I am missing?

    Why I am asking… (and info for those building personal NAS solutions)
    I recently purchased three 120GB Kingston SSD (two for Mirrored ZFS Intent Log, one for L2ARC) for $39.99 from NewEgg and two 64GB USB 3.0 AES micro flash drives (the ones that barely extend beyond the metal part of the plug) for $17.73 each. Both are for a FreeNAS installation that I recently setup (& love)- I tweaked plans by Brian Moses (Google “DIY NAS” or “Brian Moses DIY NAS”). I even hide my USB drives inside the case using the internal USB connections that are intended for the front USB ports, which my case lacks. Obviously, you would not need all of the features that these specific items offer, but that only means that you could utilize cheaper options.

    I also want to THANK YOU for showing that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH SHUCKED HDDs because it gave me the courage to purchase nine (eight for NAS, one spare/USB) 5TB USB 3.0 enclosed drives for $119 or 129 each (retail- Samsung from NewEgg and Amazon- I purchase 2 Seagate for $119 to use as USB 3.0 backups for my NAS, one of which I shucked when Amazon raised their prices 2 days before my big order, which included 4 more Seagate drives for $129). The remaining three 5TB drives that I needed came from NewEgg for $119. This saved me a fortune! Retail, a 4TB WD Red drive is roughly $150 and the 6TB drives that I really wanted were roughly $250 each. So, I got 25% more storage than 4TB drives for LESS MONEY (plus, I have 8 spare USB 3.0 cables, power supplies, & USB 3.0 to SATA cards from the shucking for future projects).

    8 USB 3.0 5TB drives for shucking $992 (could have been $952 if I had known about NewEgg’s pricing or ordered sooner on those 4 drives)
    Cost per raw TB: $24.80 ($23.80 possible)
    Cost per RAID-Z3 (triple parity) TB: $39.68 ($38.08 possible) [25TB]

    8 WD RED 4TB $150*8=$1200
    Cost per raw TB: $37.5 [32TB]
    Cost per RAID-Z3 (triple parity) TB: $60 [20TB]

    8 WD RED 6TB $250*8=$2000
    Cost per raw TB: $41.67 [48TB]
    Cost per RAID-Z3 (triple parity) TB: $66.67 [30TB]

    Shucking saved me 40.48% (42.88% if I have paid $119 for all of them) per usable TB compared to the 6TB drives I wanted.

    Even though I used Brian’s tutorial, BACKBLAZE GAVE ME THE KNOWLEDGE & COURAGE I NEEDED to make sound decisions and to build my dream NAS (well, almost dream NAS*)

    THANK YOU

    -Steve

    *My budget prevented me from using a slightly modified Pod with 15 (12 data/3 parity) drives to start and room to expand to 45 drives and object storage or RAID-Z3 FreeNAS. Ideally, I would merge the Brian Moses FreeNAS with BackBlaze’s Pod case and capacity (software could be either FreeNAS or object storage).

  • HotGore

    Why did you deploy 10Gb-baseT instead of fiber based 10G? The power savings are pretty significant and you can get SFPs for fairly cheap from the right places.

    • Petr Valkoun

      the switch is expensive?

  • italo maia

    Hello guys. How did you address the problems stated by this post by bioteam? http://bioteam.net/2011/08/why-you-should-never-build-a-backblaze-pod/

  • Karyudo

    It’s terribly disingenuous to pretend that anybody could build one of these pods (or anything similar) themselves. The Sunrich A-540 PM SATA card and S-331 backplanes are perpetually on backorder at Arrow, and Arrow’s customer service is crap.

    I’m three emails deep with some faceless, nameless drone at Arrow (six emails, actually: one set of three for the SATA card, and another set of three for the backplanes), and they’re still asking questions that I answered in the first contact I made via their own damn web form!

  • “and are less expensive to manufacturer then the previous type of rails” should be “than”

  • Sherwin

    cpu fan number is 2 – totals are correct but it should be 1

  • Rares Hornet

    Great work guys,

    I do have a problem with the port sata multipliers or sata cards. I’m using CentOS 6/7 and the sata cards and OS detect only 4 drives maximum. Is there any tweak that you guys did in OS? I haven’t tested with debian yet.

    • ffelix

      Rares, have you solved this issue? I’m using an LSI 9201-16i HBA and it’s not seeing the sunrich expander boards. Just one drive per primary port. 4 4-lane SAS ports on the card, and each port is reporting connection directly to one drive, instead of direct connection to a multiplier, which then connects to 5 HDDs.

  • durangoodyear

    Your transparency makes an awesome company even awesomererer… I just made that word out, and it’s sticking.

    Thanks!

  • BiGG_D

    From the looks of your BoM, it seems as though ram-wise your maxing out @ where most socket 1155 boards max out at, ever put any thought to any of the avoton boards that have AES-NI, 64gb ram capability, higher sata port counts (A1SA7-2750F having 16),8 cores, and more minimal power consumption?

  • Roger Deloy Pack

    It would be interesting to see performance benchmarks and “how they varied” based on the new hardwares recommended. Basically my question is “were all the upgrades suggested helpful/useful”? Did you need the 10 GbE did it improve throughput? Did the extra RAM improve throughput? And the other upgrades [cpu etc.]? If yes “by how much” did each affect performance? That type of thing, so I can understand your justifications. Cheers!

  • karl

    Beautiful but I don’t know how you can operate and make a profit. I will be interested to see your upload request / download request costs per 1,000 items.

    Back to the storage Pod, it’s a beautiful piece of hardware.

  • Narrbarrey

    Any info on where we can buy the tool-less rails?

  • pdwalker

    Even though I don’t need a pod (although I’d love to have one), I really enjoy reading about your engineering changes in each revision. I can’t wait to read about the next iteration.

    It’s a bold decision to open source the design.

    I hope your company continues to be successful.

  • Jake Ronald

    Thanks for the details – when your saying that this meets the right performance for the right price – does that mean it saturates the 10GB link? Did I miss performance data / what qualifies that?

    Thanks!

    • Andy Klein

      The statement is very simplified. We have multiple (10-30) pods online at any time accepting data. This keeps the data flowing in without saturation. To overspend for faster SATA cards for example wouldn’t improve throughput at this point, but we’re always on the lookout for when that could occur.

  • Great work, as usual…

    A couple Qs:
    How are you deploying 10GbaseT economically?
    Have you considered the Xeon-D?

    • Andy Klein

      The motherboards provide the 10G connectity, the 10G routers were expensive, but when worked into the math for a Vault were workable, i.e. the cost was spread across 20 pods.
      Not sure about Xeon-D, I know we looked at several before going with the current Xeon chip, may have been several met the performance we needed, so price was the decider.

  • Marc-Philippe HUGET

    Hello Backblaze, I am pretty sure I know the answer but do we need to buy all the hard drives to see the pod working or can I buy just a subset of the drives based on needs and buy some others in the future?

    • The pods don’t need to be filled in right away, you can install hard drives one a time!

  • Chawansit

    Great work!! I am wondering what kind of 10G switch you are using at the moment. If you can share.

  • iwod

    Would the upcoming Xeon-D will be a perfect match ( with the 10Gbps )

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/9773/intels-xeon-d-product-family-updated-with-storage-and-networkingspecific-skus

    If not why? ( Generally interested )

  • samof76

    Awesome. This is a great insight into what a quantum leap means in terms of storage.

  • Paul van den Bergen

    I wanted to ask about the pod lids…

    why do you need a lid? Or a bottom plate?

    For a single POD, sure, you want to maintain good channelised flow through the chassis front to back.

    Consider the following – no base plate, no top plate, except for the very bottom POD in a rack and the very top POD in a rack.

    air flow will still go front to back, because every POD in the rack has a set of fans pulling and pushing a wall of air through.

    but now if you have a fan failure, it doesn’t matter so much. Massive fan redundancy.

    and you save the cost and thickness of the top and bottom plates.

    what about power… could you organise a common bus between each of the PODs so that if a PSU fails on one POD, it’s not just backed up by the other PSU in that POD, but some of the load is shed to the PODs beside it?

    • Andy Klein

      We took a quick look at not having a top cover during the 5.0 Scrum. We’ll want to study it a bit more over the coming months. It’s a good idea. The bottom cover currently has mount points for the motherboard, and one of the power supplies, the engineering is possible, just not high on our list.
      Interesting idea about the common bus for the PSUs, we’ll pass that on the Storage Pod design team.

      • Paul van den Bergen

        I’d forgotten about the motherboard (!) – and drive connections – they still need a framework to mount on… I can see a couple of options – perforated, mount rails, etc., but if the benefit is improved cross flow, the motherboard etc are going to limit that anyway… at least the design’d be… cool….

      • Paul van den Bergen

        This discussion via openstoragepod

        https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/openstoragepod/XviEc_uULQU/4gDAxVJaCAAJ

        raises an interesting question from the PoV of power supplies – how much power does the PSU itself consume? if you reduce the number of PSUs by having an interconnected bank (a RAIPSU), would the power bill savings be significant?

  • weltysparrow

    Great article. By one PSU do you mean no redundancy? Or do the pods already require two PSUs and you want to cut down to one?

    • Right now they have two, but we want to see if we can’t get it down to one!

    • pdwalker

      With their 20 pod redundancy, the redundant power supplies might actually be unnecessary. If they keep stats on power supply failures, they can calculate roughly how many power supplies in a 20 pod unit that are likely to fail at the same time and then decide if redundancy is actually necessary.

      Such a design change will save money, and may allow them to add in more drives.

      Now, if they can have a common power bus between each of the pods…

  • OllieJones

    Great! There aren’t many companies of whom I’m proud to be a customer, but you are one. In fact, you might be the only one. :-)

    There’s no software or firmware licensing cost in your breakout. Does that mean you use free open source software, and the firmware in your various components is bundled into the hardware purchase cost?

    • Andy Klein

      The pod comes sans software, even the boot drive. You are free to install whatever you’d like.

  • VertexWolf

    Damn cool. Never buy one, cause I can’t take that on the airplane, nor would I want to. I’ll pay per month while I’m traveling this crazy world.

  • Matthew E. Porter

    Did you look at 6TB or 8TB drives?

  • mAurelius

    Great article! Thank you for your continued openness and transparency on your infrastructure. We’re happy Backblaze users for our small business, and it’s helpful to see these articles and learn how Backblaze continues to innovate and work to keep costs low and reliability high. Excellent work!

    One question: Do you think Backblaze will ever purchase or build its own datacenter? It’s just a curiosity more than anything. As you continue to grow so aggressively, I imagine you’ve got to be using quite a bit of space at your latest Sacramento datacenter.

    • We are overflowing out of our current datacenter now, but we decided to continue for another year leasing space. After that, we might try to build our own. We would cater it specifically to work with our 20 pod vaults to increase durability and uptime slightly.

  • Isabella Britain Hill

    Oh dear! I am assuming this wealth of hardware info is for developers and not the mortal that I am. OR should I be prepared to buy the hardware, in which case, I won’t use B2.

    • Hi Isabella, feel free to completely ignore this blog post. You don’t need to know anything about hardware to use B2…in fact, that is really the point of B2.

      We publish a lot of behind-the-scenes info on storage on our blog as a way of giving back to the community and because developers, IT folk, and others often find it interesting.

      • Isabella Britain Hill

        Thanks! i was about to enroll in a Geek University. I think I love B2 already!

  • mike

    You put down quantity 2 of RAM, not quantity 4 (but your “total” cost is right) :)

    • Fixed!

      • tunez

        @YevP:disqus are you using ZFS or ??
        I am really intrigued with these magic storage boxes. Why did you decide to use Debian?

        • We went with Debian because it was inexpensive and worked for exactly what we needed it to do! Plus there was no upsells to paid versions :D

          • tunez

            Thanks Yev,
            So are you using ZFS?

          • Sorry, EXT4.