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SMART supercomputer smacks flash in its stash

IBM's new super-cooled monster will use NAND flash for storage

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IBM is going to use NAND flash storage in its planned monster BlueGene/Q supercomputer.

This is the water-cooled supercomputer that IBM showed in component form at the recent SC10 conference in New Orleans.

The flash is the XceedIOPS multi-level cell NAND product from SMART. It uses 34nm process technology and comes in a 2.5-inch form factor with a 3Gbit/s SAS interface. There are 100GB, 200GB and 400GB capacity points and the peak random read and write IOPS numbers are 26,000 and 20,000 respectively. The sequential read and write peaks are 250MB/sec and 230MB/sec.

SMART makes great play of the product using enterprise-grade MLC flash with a correspondingly longer life than ordinary MLC product. It also has data integrity features. There are the usual wear-levelling type technologies involved and SMART says the product should have a minimum of five years working life.

With the extreme performance focus of supercomputers, the pairing of supercomputers with SSDs (solid state drives) seems natural. Los Alamos National Laboratory is working on a supercomputer using Fusion-io flash product. MLC flash has driven the cost of the SSD down enough to make it more affordable. We can now expect SMART salespeople to start making cracks about IBM making SMARTer supercomputers that run through their workloads in a flash. Ho ho ho. ®

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