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HP plays tune on the flash Violin

Can NetApp spread syrup on its WAFL?

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HP is offering server-connected flash memory arrays OEMed from Violin Memory to break I/O app bottlenecks.

The VMA3205 and VMA3210 are virtual memory arrays with five and ten terabytes of capacity respectively. They deliver 350,000 read IOPS, 250,000 write IOPS and a 1.4GB/sec bandwidth.

The 3U rackmount boxes can be shared amongst servers using Fibre Channel connectivity, or up to eight of them can be hooked up to one server using PCIe, supplying up to 80TB of capacity. That should make databases go faster. The VMA products include RAID and have hot-plug modules using single level cell flash.

HP and Violin have worked together for some time, with a focus on competing against Oracle's Exadata boxes. This OEM deal is the logical next step in their relationship.

In effect HP has co-opted Violin's flash memory arrays into the HP storage line alongside its various disk-drive-based arrays. It is the first major array vendor to offer a separate all-flash storage array (although EMC offers all-flash configurations of its VMAX and VNX disk drive-based arrays and, El Reg believes, we can expect more flash array action from EMC).

We also expect other storage array vendors, such as Dell, HDS, IBM and NetApp, to follow this path as well.

Seen in this light, NetApp's provision of 512GB of flash cache as a standard feature of its high-end array controllers is an initial step along a road with more steps to come. It may use an OEM deal to provide the functionality needed by customers while it works out whether it can tune its WAFL-based array controller software to use flash effectively and how to do that.

Perhaps we'll see a NetApp-TMS deal.

The VMA-series Memory Array is only supported with the ProLiant DL980 G7 server and not other ProLiants. You can also connect it to Integrity blades and Superdome 2, both with HP-UX 11iv3. HP hasn't announced pricing for the VMA products. ®

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