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EMC: The age of high-end flash has begun

Enterprise SSDs match high-end disk prices by 2010?

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EMC predicts the end is nigh for rotating drives dominating data center storage.

Speaking at EMC's annual conference in Las Vegas, David Donatelli, boss of EMC's storage division said he expects enterprise solid state drives to match the price of its spinning magnetic media counterpart within only two years.

"By 2010, flash will have reached parity with high-speed fibre channel disks. The enterprise flash drive will significantly change the way storage products are designed."

Donatelli noted that flash drives can beat EMC's fastest disk drive in both IOPS (input/output operations per second) and response time. Combine this with better reliability and less energy consumed due to a lack of moving parts in SSD and spinning disks are past their days of glory. And soon, according to Donatelli, who forecasts we'll see "completely different storage" in data centers in a matter of years.

EMC was the first major storage vendor to embrace solid state with its Symmetrix arrays, but the current immense cost of the technology has kept most customers away.

But, Donatelli says, the cost of flash technology is coming down faster than spinning disks.

"We are by no means saying that spinning disks are dead — we see mixed environments," he said. "The disk drive will be around for a long time, particularly ATA drives."

EMC's CEO Joe Tucci seems less confident about flash dominance. Although he echoed sentiments at a JP Morgan conference today that flash technology would "revolutionize" the storage industry — he's hedging his bets on other types of chips too.

"We don't care what the substrate is, and we're looking at all these different technologies, but at the moment, flash is the technology."

Commence speculation. Hey, maybe it'll be Iomega ZIP drives powering future data center storage arrays instead. Suddenly EMC's purchase makes sense. ®

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