Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Howto: Nimble Storage CS210 Live SSD Cache Upgrade

One recent Nimble Storage upgrade feature you may have missed recently is the ability to add bigger SSD drives into our starter array (the CS210). Originally this system shipped with 8x 1TB 7.2K drives & 2x 80GB SSDs primarily designed for the SMB market (or ROBO/DR/UAT environments) - and this system could not be upgraded.

From using our Infosight deep data analytics engine we’ve detected that quite a few CS210 systems are being used for more than what was originally scoped for the use case - some of my customers are using these modest arrays for VDI, SQL, Exchange, Oracle - the list goes on. Check out the screenshot below from one of my customers Infosight to see what I mean…

Infosight screenshot showing SSD cache saturation >200%
So, starting from Nimble OS 1.4.8 and 2.0.5 we now fully support live upgrading the SSDs to two bigger configurations:
  • Adding two more 80GB SSDs for a total of 320GB of cache (known as CS210-X2)
  • Replacing the two 80GB SSDs and adding four 160GB SSDs for a total of 640GB of cache (known as CS210-X4)

I recently upgraded my >2 year old CS210 to the new -X4 configuration.

Notice the 2x80GB SSDs in the middle of the array (yes, it is sat on carpet!)
Here are the steps I took:

1. Check out the “CS210 Cache Upgrade Guide” on Infosight as a guide (available here - needs Infosight login).

2. For both the -X2 and the -X4 upgrades, the new drives are to be fitted in drive bays 7 and 10 only, starting with drive 7.
2x 160GB SSDs installed alongside the old 80GB SSDs.
Notice the model is still CS210, with two RED X's - this is because it currently has an invalid SSD configuration.
3. Next I had to remove the two 80GB SSDs to replace them with new 160GB SSDs. This is an online process and does not need any downtime for the array or your servers, nor does it require RAID rebuild times (as there is no RAID on the SSDs) - although you may want to space out removing both drives in a production environment as the array will have to recache any data that was on the removed drive. I started with bay 8, and then finally bay 9.
All four SSDs now added!
4. That’s it - my whole upgrade was complete. You can now see I have all four new SSDs (denoted by the new green Nimble Storage logo) alongside my old blue blanking plates & 7.2K drives!
Also note the GUI has updated automatically from CS210 to CS210-X4, with a total cache of approximately 600GB usable.

This upgrade is available NOW from Nimble Storage. If you’re not sure if you need an upgrade head to Infosight! It’s an amazing tool which gives you great information about many things, but in this case pinpoints CPU and cache usage & potential upgrade benefits.


  1. can we add more NL-SAS disks to occupy the 4 empty slots? if not, do you think that will come soon?

  2. Hi Amirul, there are no plans to add any more NL-SAS drives in the CS210 at this time - if more capacity is required an additional shelf can be added.

    1. Thought that might be the case. Shame...there's 4 empty slots there waiting to be populated. Hope Engineering is reading this!

  3. Hi Nick,

    I would like to know, what will happen if one disk drive on the array is replaced with a new disk, the disk itself is bought from public market, not from nimble.

    Best Regards,

    1. Hello Astro,

      Nimble QA's and certifies specific NL-SAS drives & SSDs for each system in the field, and thus if a drive or SSD sourced from the open market is fitted then it will not be recognised as it would not contain Nimble coded firmware (it gets marked as "foreign"), and would also invalidate the support agreement.