Another Flash-only NAS? Come on in

Solid Access UNAS makes it a bit crowded in here

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Two's company but three is becoming a crowd: Solid Access has launched a NAND flash-only NAS storage product, the UNAS 100, offering 300,000 IOPS and 1,000MB/sec bandwidth.

This joins Nimbus Data Systems' S-Class and WhipTail, with its Racerunner Virtual Desktop XLR8R, in offering a flash-only storage array at reasonable prices.

The UNAS box is a 2U rackmount enclosure holding 1.4TB or 2.4TB of single-level-cell (SLC) flash made up from 300GB usable-capacity drives, and connected to the outside world by a dual-port 10Gbit/E NIC. The smaller capacity one has a 64GB RAM cache while its big brother enjoys a 96GB RAM cache. The bandwidth is steady-state, not a burst-mode peak. Another performance point is that the latency is less than 10 microseconds.

Before 2010 the only diskless storage arrays were expensive, very fast and largish DRAM and NAND boxes from the likes of Texas Memory Systems and Violin Memory. We have now had three flash-based, diskless storage products announced in just a few weeks. The Nimbus one uses multi-level cell flash, while the WhipTail and Solid Access products use faster SLC.

It is becoming apparent that if you want to bridge the drive array I/O lag compared to what servers can accept, then the short-stroking multiple Fibre Channel spindles tactic entered its end-of-life phase when EMC announced its Enterprise Flash Drives.

Now it appears that Fibre Channel drive arrays in general could be replaced by flash arrays, and the NetApp view of drive arrays evolving to flash for IOPS and SATA for capacity is going to become reality, with that evolution starting this year.

Which array vendor will be first off the starting blocks in offering a two-tier array: flash for speed, and SATA drives for space? Will it be one of the five majors: EMC, Dell, HP, IBM or NetApp, or one of the many minors: 3PAR, BlueArc, Compellent, DataDirect, Fujitsu, Pillar, LSI, Oracle/Sun, or Xiotech? While they wait, Nimbus, Solid Access and WhipTail can sell unchallenged by any competition on the performance front.

Thanks to StorageSearch for pointing out the Solid Access product.

Chas Chesler, Solid Access Technologies' sales director, said the UNAS 100 supports NFS, CIFS and Samba. The 1.2TB model is $70,000 while the 2.4TB one is $125,000. ®

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