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Xiotech grasps hilt of Katana, prepares to unsheath

Iaijutsu flash slash aimed at ISE gap

Intelligent flash storage arrays

We understand Xiotech is getting to ready to announce its Katana product, an ISE storage brick using solid state drives.

Chief strategy officer Jim McDonald said in a briefing call today that there is a gap in the market between traditional storage arrays with tiers of hard disk drives and maybe a top tier of solid state drives (SSD), and flash arrays like those from Texas Memory Systems and Violin Memory.

The trad arrays are large enough but not fast enough, while the flash arrays are fast enough but not large enough and certainly not affordable.

Katana, Xiotech's hot development project aims to fill that hole with something that's large enough, fast enough and more affordable than the RamSans and Memory Arrays from TMS and Violin.

But it will still be an ISE (Integrated Storage Element) with storage devices inside that look like drives, and will retain ISE features and functionality, and have the existing five-year warranty. McDonald says Xiotech will announce something before the end of the year that is "absolutely not slideware." It will also, we understand, represent a set away from sole dependency upon Seagate for drives, this not using Seagate's Pulsar SSDs.

The El Reg thinking cap was donned and enterprise-grade multi-level cell (MLC) flash came to mind with ISE internal controller functionality looking after performance, wear-levelling and data protection so that the SSD could be safely treated as another kind of hard drive, a blazingly fast one.

We could be thinking here of a Pliant Lightning SSD; that's called an enterprise flash drive and has unlimited writes over its lifetime. STEC is another possibility, having its Mach16 SSD with an endurance of more than five years from 2-bit MLC flash.

Micron has what it calls enterprise-grade MLC flash, now with on-chip ECC, which Xiotech could use to build its own drives, maybe using a SandForce SF-1500 or SF-2000 controller. The latter is said to support enterprise MLC flash. Altogether Xiotech has a fair amount of choice.

If Xiotech is that close to announcement and it is real product coming, then the choice is already done and dusted.

Xiotech has deduplication coming and is making a lot of progress in selling to large enterprises. More on that soon. ®

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