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Micron barges into PCIe SSD business

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Fusion-io is going to face competition from Micron for PCI-e-connected solid state drives.

Micron makes flash devices but is a relative nobody in the supply of server and storage array flash. Storage array flash involves replacing hard drives and is dominated by STEC and Intel, with virtually 100 per cent takeup of their SSDs by storage array OEMs. Micron partners Intel and so has no independent route into storage array flash open to it.

Server SSDs are focussing on flash drives connected to a server's PCIe bus. Here Fusion-io, with its ioDrive, is receiving most of the attention. HP is selling an IO Accelerator using Fusion-io technology and Fusion has also announced a good decision support benchmark with Dell today.

Micron has already tried its hand at a PCI-e-connected SSD with its Washington project. The results have clearly been good enough for it to go looking for a source of specialist PCIe and memory interface technology.

It is pairing with IDT for that company's PCIe and memory interface technology and aiming to co-develop PCI-e-conected solid state drive controllers. They will be integrated with Micron flash chips and the resulting RealSSD-branded drives sold into the server and embedded system markets. Micron says it will also sell them into the storage market, meaning, we undestand, the storage array controller part of it.

Mario Montana VP and general manager for IDT's Enterprise Computing Division put the marketing spin on this: "Our alliance with Micron, together with their enterprise flash products, will, in the future, supply the industry with PCIe-based solid-state drive solutions with unparalleled performance and reliability."

The idea is to have RealSSD product with lower latency, greater performance and greater levels of storage integration than existing products, meaning Fusion-io ones, and, we guess, ones likely to be introduced in the next six to twelve months.

Other competitors include OCZ with its 1TB Z-Drive PCIe-connect SSD, the TMS RamSan-20, and SuperTalent's RAIDDrive. Micron and IDT better get their skates on and have a good product ready next year or they'll be left behind. ®

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