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STEC going SAS and PCIe

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Enterprise flash drive supplier STEC is sampling a SAS version of its ZeusIOPS solid state drive with its major OEMs and developing a PCIe product.

Currently the ZeusIOPS flash product ships with a 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel interface. This is sold by EMC, IBM, Compellent and others as an enterprise solid state drive (SSD).

STEC has no plans to bring out an 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel interface for the Zeus line, seeing 8gig as a box-to-box interface, not a drive-level interface. Instead it is developing a 6Gbit/s SAS interface Zeus product and EMC may well be one of the OEMs sampling it.

The word on the storage street is that STEC will have a PCIe-interface SSD out later this year. STEC tells us that it sells its products through OEMs and does not have a distribution/reseller channel strategy.

This implies that a PCOe product will be sold though its OEMs as well, putting STEC on a collision course with Fusion-io, Micron and LSI who each have or will have PCIe SSD products and an OEM channel component to their sales.

We understand STEC is not experiencing demand from its OEMs to supply SSD components for a Nimbus Data-like system, one that is a multi-TB, SSD-only, diskless unified storage array. STEC's products augment a disk drive array and provide a top, fast-access tier of storage, not a total replacement for primary data disk storage.

It cannot see how a Nimbus Data-like product could be made affordable enough while still being reliable enough for enterprises, certainly not by using, say, 3-bit multi-level cell (MLC) flash which, STEC reckons, has so many problems it's pretty near unusable by enterprises, even though it would be more affordable than 2-bit MLC.

STEC has a 2-bit MLC ZeusIOPS variant and also its less expensive Mach product line can use 2-bit MLC technology. Neither use 3-bit MLC, and STEC appears to have no plans to use that technology. ®

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