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Sun debuts FlashFire, calls record books

2TB array boasts record-beating bandwidth, apparently

Security for virtualized datacentres

Sun has announced its solid state FlashFire products - an apparently record-breaking 2TB array and a 96GB card.

The F5100 array, some details of which were revealed in September, has up to 1.92TB of single-level cell NAND flash, originally thought to be supplied by STEC but now from Marvell, and comes as a 1U rackmount shelf. Host bus adapter firmware comes from LSI. The product has 64 SAS lanes (16 x 4-wide ports), 4 domains and SAS zoning, It can perform 1.6m read IOPS and 1.2M write IOPS, with a bandwidth of 12.8GB/sec which, Sun says, is a world record.

It also says the read IOPS figure is equivalent to 3,000 hard drives in 14 rack cabinets. The F5100 uses 1/100th of the space and power, at 300 watts, of such a collection of hard drives.

The individual 24GB flash modules are rated at a mean time before failure (MTBF) of 2m hours. Eighty of them are used to make the 1.92TB model. A 480GB product has 20 and an 960GB variant 40. The 480GB product does 397K read IOPS and the 960GB product 795K read IOPS; performance, both of IOPS and bandwidth, increasing as flash modules are added. Latency stays the same though, at 0.41ms read latency and 0.28ms write latency. Endurance is given out as six years, assuming 50 per cent reads and 50 per cent writes.

Sun positions this as a database accelerator for Oracle and MySQL. The unit can be zoned into 16 partitions, one for each of up to 16 hosts. The device can form part of a Sun ZFS hybrid storage pool, embracing solid state and hard disk drives. It is managed through StorageTek Common Array Manager Software, and protected by a super capacitor instead of by a battery backup system. If power fails then a capacitative energy system flushes the DRAM to flash and prevents data loss.

F20 PCIe card

Sun has used the same flash technology to build a 94GB flash card, the F20, that connects to a server's PCIe bus. It is composed of four 24GB flash modules, presented as four separate 24GB disks, and contains a DRAM cache. It can do more than 100,000 read IOPS and 84,000 write IOPS.

The F20 also contains host bus adapter technology with a SAS disk controller for connecting up to eight internal SAS or SATA devices. Sun's ZFS can include the F20 in a hybrid storage pool. Protection is provided by a super capacitor system as with the F5100.

The F20 competes with similar PCIe-connected flash from Fusion-io and others, and acts as a read I/O accelerator for applications needing generally faster I/O from a set of disk drives. It is also conceptually similar to NetApp's Performance Acceleration Module or PAM. The F5100 is more akin to Texas Memory Systems' Flash-based RamSan products where an entire database is stored in flash.

The F5100 is priced from $45,995 but F20 pricing and availability were not revealed. ®

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