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SSD & storage news - June 21 - 30, 2011

SSD jargon
popular SSD articles
the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list(s)
SSD market research & analysts
Oracle acquires Pillar

Editor:- June 29, 2011 - Oracle today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Pillar Data Systems - which was already majority owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.

Editor's comments:- I guess I'd say - So what? This simply ends a fiction which nobody seriously believed in. Pillar was hampered by its ownership which meant that it could be yanked in any direction at a moment's notice. Pulling the storage skunkworks inside the Oracle corporate fold will work better for customers and as a business - even if it may upset some internal stakeholders.

FlashSoft launches software to unleash the power of enterprise flash

Editor:- June 28, 2011 - FlashSoft today announced it has secured $3 million Series A funding and has launched its first product - software which enables enterprise flash to be used as a cost-effective, server-tier computing resource (ASAP functionality in software) which is available for free evaluation through a 30-day "Try Before You Buy" program.

FlashSoft says that despite the performance advantages of flash SSD, 2 barriers have inhibited its adoption in the enterprise.
  • First, when used as primary data storage, flash memory cannot easily integrate with and leverage the benefits of existing storage systems infrastructure.
  • Secondly, storing all of an application's data on server-attached flash memory remains expensive.
FlashSoft's new all-software product overcomes both of these objections with what they call a "tier minus one" solution for flash virtualization. Enterprise IT can now provide databases, applications and virtual machine environments with the performance benefit of having the entire data set on flash, with only a fraction of the data actually stored in flash. This innovation makes enterprise flash a cost-effective performance solution that works seamlessly with existing storage infrastructure. In fact, FlashSoft actually reduces the IO burden on storage, producing even greater cost savings. FlashSoft's technology is designed to deliver flash-grade performance within a standalone server, across server clusters, and throughout the data center. Early Customer Successes

One early user - Zenprise said "By using FlashSoft, we aren't buying new server hardware or licensing additional server software. We're simply making our existing servers and software run at their full potential." And they were equally equally impressed by FlashSoft's reliability when they set up stress tests (read case study).

In conjunction with its funding announcement, FlashSoft announced that it is collaborating with industry leaders including VMware, Microsoft, SanDisk Enterprise Storage Solutions, Virident Systems, LSI, OCZ Technology, and systems provider AMAX. These relationships will help FlashSoft integrate its software more closely with complementary hardware and software products, and provide customers with the best solutions for their specific requirements.

Editor's comments:- FlashSoft says its software (which runs on Windows Server - Linux is in beta) works with any flash SSDs upto 1TB, and takes approx 5% CPU utilization and 100MB of core RAM. I asked

How many physical SSDs does the software support?

The number of SSDs is not limited, as long as they can be represented as a single logical volume, eg. through a RAID.

Is the 1TB limit shown on your site the limit for the setof SSDs or just for each drive?

The 1TB limit is the current logical limit for the SSD used for caching. The data set is typically 5x greater (or more) than the cache. The size restriction is an artifact of early development, and in a near-future release, there will be no restriction on the size of the SSD employed.

In the case of sudden power loss – what are the steps taken to protect the state of the cached data and update the external storage?

FlashSoft employs a method called multi-level metadata management, which stores some cache metadata in RAM, but most of it on the SSD itself (and employs a balanced tree design for optimal efficiency). There are two benefits to this design: first, it minimizes utilization of server memory. Only the hottest metadata runs in server memory. The rest is cached in SSD. Also, the application regularly creates snapshots of the metadata on the SSD, so that in the event of a server crash, the cache metadata can be re-created from the snapshots + most recent metadata almost immediately. Typical recovery is less than a second. (Keep in mind, our team's background is at Veritas, Oracle, Symantec, etc. so data recovery is a top priority for the product design.)

new industrial SSD range suits small spaces and power budgets

Editor:- June 22, 2011 - Emphase announced a new range of miniature industrial SATA SLC SSDs which have been engineered to operate off as little as 0.5 watts max and fit into less than 4mm height.

Capacities range from 1GB to 32GB. R/W speeds upto 120/100MB/s. All S3 Series SATA modules come with a tightly managed BOM and a 5-year warranty, with the option for conformal coating.

See also:- Efficiency - making the same SSD - with less chips

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the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs?
Are you tied up in knots trying to shortlist flash SSD accelerators ranked according to published comparative benchmarks?

You know the sort of thing I mean - where a magazine compares 10 SSDs or a blogger compares 2 SSDs against each other. It would be nice to have a shortlist so that you don't have to waste too much of your own valuable time testing unsuitable candidates wouldn't it?

StorageSearch's long running fastest SSDs directory typically indicates 1 main product in each form factor category but those examples may not be compatible with your own ecosystem.

If so a new article - the 3 fastest PCIe SSDs list (or is it really lists?) may help you cut that Gordian knot. Hmm... you may be thinking that StorageSearch's editor never gives easy answers to SSD questions if more complicated ones are available.
the 3 fastest  PCIe SSDs  - click to read article But in this case you'd be wrong. (I didn't say you'd like the answers, though.) the article
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Are MLC SSDs Safe in Enterprise Apps?
Yes you can! - swiftly sort Enterprise SSDs
the Problem with Write IOPS - in flash SSDs
Data Integrity Challenges in flash SSD Design
RAM SSDs versus Flash SSDs - which is Best?
Rackmount SSDs - open vs proprietary architectures
Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage
the Problem with Selling revolutionary enterprise SSDs
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