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It's the turn of the mid-range

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TMS is hurrying along flash product refresh road, and it's the turn of its mid-range to get a product using its new seventh generation controller, first seen in the PCIe-format RamSan-70.

The RamSan-710 is a 1 to 5TB capacity, externally-attached flash array packaged in a 1U rackmount enclosure. It uses 32nm single level cell NAND chips from Toshiba. TMS's release says it has a "complete integrated storage platform inside the box ... [with] 21 Flash boards, two high-bandwidth I/O modules (2 ports each), one management Ethernet port, and a fast cross-bar switch that connects everything" with TMS optimising the overall design for "bandwidth, IOPS, latency, and reliability."

As with the RamSan-70, the controller is based on Xilinx FPGAs (field-programmable gate arrays) working with a PowerPC embedded processor. There are four 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel or QDR InfiniBand ports. The controller manages the flash, corrects faults, tracks performance, and logs operational data. It incorporates TMS' Variable Stripe RAID (VSR) technology, chip-level RAID, and ECC functions. The product's expected working life is 10 years.

Currently TMS has a high-end RamSan-630 product, with up to 10TB capacity and 1 million IOPS rating, and a mid-range RamSan-620 storing up to 3TB of data and rated at 250,00 IOPS. The 710 is rated at 400,000 IOPS, comfortably exceeding the 620, and holds up to 5GB of data.

Does it replace the 620? A TMS spokesperson said: "The RamSan-710 is smaller, faster, cheaper, and more reliable (with our Series-7 flash controller) than the RamSan-620. It fills the same slot in our portfolio so new customers will gravitate to this product. However, the RamSan-620 is supported in a wide variety of environments and some customers have standardised on it so it will continue to be sold for quite some time."

Dan Scheel, TMS' president, said the RamSan-710 "fills the gap between our new RamSan-70 PCIe card and our RamSan-630 3U system". The top-of-the-line 630 does not use the latest Series-7 TMS controller. Will the 630 be refreshed with it? The spokesperson said: "You will continue to see innovation from TMS. The key component on our recent new product announcements has been the integration of the Series-7 flash controller... As the Series-7 controller has been implemented within the RamSan-630 platform, you should expect that additional flash board designs that enhance our capabilities could be compatible with this system."

We might reasonably expect that a Series-7 controller version of the 630 would have a higher performance rating and possibly increased capacity as well.

TMS envisages the RamSan-710 being used for "high bandwidth applications like data warehousing, scientific and high performance computing (HPC), online transaction processing (OLTP), data acquisition, batch processing, and video editing". One or more units can be integrated into mixed storage infrastructures and monitored and managed through a common framework.

El Reg sees PCIe flash and externally-attached flash arrays being used for the same kind of workloads with the externally attached flash arrays offering higher capacity and shared server access.

The RamSan-710 is scheduled for delivery in four to eight weeks and no pricing information was released. ®

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