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Violin punts flash-mem array with '10X performance advantage'

Cheaper per gigabyte too

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Violin Memory is introducing a flash memory array product with integrated flash RAID and a "sustainable ten-fold performance advantage over leading competitors".

The 3200 Flash Memory Array has hot-swappable flash drives and is claimed to have a much lower cost per useable gigabyte as well as a performance advantage. It is a modular array in a 3U enclosure that scales from 500GB to 10TB of single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash. There is hardware-based flash RAID across the hot-swappable memory modules. Data latency is said to be less than 100 microseconds, with Violin saying this is spike-free latency.

It claims there are multi-millisecond spikes seen in today’s solid state drive (SSD) and PCIe card solutions, presumably such as ones from Fusion-io.

The 3200 delivers over 220,000 sustained random Write IOPS (4K block), claimed to be more than twenty times greater than Fibre Channel or PCIe based SSDs - seemingly an allusion to STEC's ZeusIOPS SSDs and Fusion-io's ioDrive PCIe SSD.

The working life of a 3200 is put at ten years plus. It has "wear levelling across the whole array and is guaranteed to sustain continuous writes over its projected 10-year life, double the industry standard. Unlike SSDs, all workloads are supported without wear being a concern to the end-user."

The 3200 is the first in the Violin 3000 series of Memory Arrays that scale to more than 140TB in a rack with a performance over two million IOPS. Violin reckons it has the industry’s best price/performance attributes, stating that the total cost of enterprise-grade Flash storage is lowered by more than 50 per cent.

Violin says the 3200 can be used as primary storage for any application on any file and operating system. Host access can be provided via PCIe, 4or 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel or 10Gbit/s Ethernet. Example applications are database, data warehousing and supporting VMware. Violin makes the point that the 3200 has RAID protection unlike Oracle's Exadata product.

Anthony Juliano, the Chief Technology Officer for Landmark Ventures, with whom Violin has a strategic partnership, said: "The recent proliferation of NAND flash in consumer devices like iPods and the recent strategic partnership with Toshiba has enabled Violin to offer the cost-metrics needed to lead the solid state revolution the storage market.

"Violin is the first company to aggregate flash as an enterprise storage solution, beyond just a cache strategy – and it’s been proven by their incredible economics and performance metrics that blow away all HDD/SSD systems to date."

Fine words, but he would talk it up; Landmark is an investment banking house as well as an advisory company.

Recently The Reg has covered news about all-flash arrays from Nimbus Data, WhipTail and UNAS. Now Violin is joining the all-flash array party. The challenge to HDD array vendors who currently see flash as just a tier-0 data container and not a container for all primary data is getting stronger and stronger on an almost daily basis.

Jim Handy, an SSD analyst at Objective Analysis, said:  "Today flash is being added incrementally through SSDs. Violin's strategy to provide a flash Memory Array to compete with high-speed HDD arrays at an equivalent price and capacity point is a novel approach that can radically change the economics of the data center."

Pricing for the 3200 starts from $20/GB, making a 10TB 3200 $200,000. This provides, Violin says, "cost parity with performance HDD (hard disk drive) storage arrays". ®

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