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HP plays Violin to whip Itanium beasts into flash frenzy

Chip arrays to accelerate hot storage, says insider

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HP has signed a deal with Violin Memory to flog shared flash memory arrays to its Itanium customers, El Reg has learned.

HP produces and sells Itanium-based systems, running HP-UX, OpenVMS and NonStop, through its Business Critical Systems operation to customers who need extreme high-availability, reliability and robustness from their servers.

Many of these customers run I/O-intensive applications, such as databases, that would benefit from being flash-accelerated. Violin Memory provides shared-access flash memory arrays in its 3000 and 6000 product lines, storing up to 32TB of data, and these answer I/O requests hundreds of times faster than spindle-bound hard disk drive arrays.

Flash memory's low latency and fast I/O responses should appeal to customers with I/O-bound Itanium systems if, and it's a big if, the chip array is reliable and robust enough to their standards. It looks as if HP and Violin are satisfied that this is so. And HP will soon extend its use of Violin products from competing in Oracle Exadata-type use cases to Itanium customers.

Mark Payne, EMEA VP for HP's Business Critical Systems, wasn't able to comment on the matter. An independent and reliable source did confirm that HP and Violin have an Itanium relationship.

David Donatelli, EVP and GM for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage, Networking and Technology Services, wouldn't comment on Itanium and Violin Memory specifically, but did say: "I think Violin [for HP] is a tactical solution. You'll see more non-volatile memory solutions coming from HP in time. Non-volatile memory is going to play an increasing role in the industry."

He wouldn't discuss Memristor technology specifics with regard to this, but said: "I think it's really cool. You've got the rewrite-ability that is an issue with flash and performance is good."

Providing a flash array-assist for Itanium customers would give them more good news after the Odyssey project following Oracle's rejection of the platform.

Garry Veale, Violin's EMEA head, said there were no discussions between HP and Violin regarding Itanium customer use of Violin memory arrays. ®

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