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Texas flash: TMS Ramsan-820 born in the USA

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TMS latest RamSan-820 is a high-availability box that the Texans say packs more terabytes into its 1U rack case than that of any other vendor.

The 820 is an eMLC version of the SLC RamSan-720 and an update on the still available RamSan-810 with its 10TB of eMLC in 1U. The 820 offers up to 24TB of flash with the same 2D Flash RAID scheme, in addition to the existing variable stripe RAID, as the 720, which duplicates data within and across flash modules. The usable capacity drops to 20TB if all the RAID features are enabled.

TMS RamSan-820

TMS RamSan-820

One of the flash modules can be designated as a hot spare to increase availability further, with data dynamically migrated to it if a flash module fails. The failed module can then be hot-swapped. TMS says the 820 has no single point of failure and runs at a claimed lower temperature than competing products and so avoids premature flash failure due to high temperatures.

The 820 provides up to 450,000 random read IOPS (4K blocks), 50,000 more than the 720, with a latency of 25 to 100 microseconds, and has a bandwidth of 4GB/sec, the 720 having 5GB/sec. Interestingly Kaminario's K2-F flash product has a latency of 260 microsecs for reads and 150 microseconds for writes.

Data gets in and out of the 820 through 40Gbit/s QDR InfiniBand ports or 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel ones. It is faster than the 810 and its 320,000 IOPS and 4GB/sec. That box has an endurance of 10 years at five full writes a day.

A rackful of 820s provides a petabite of capacity and, if we simply add the IOPS, up to 18.9 million IOPS.

How does this RamSan compare to Kaminario's high-availability K2-F? The K2 has high-volume snapshots and asynchronous replication, features that TMS does not, but the TMS product is more densely packed and, in terms of latency, faster reacting than the K2-F. Benchmarks will be needed to properly compare the two products.

TMS says it uses PowerPC processors and Xilinx FPGAs in its controllers, not relying on software and host CPU cycles – eat your heart out Fusion-io – to do any of the flash work.

TMS has clearly read the mood of the recession-torn US economy, being sure to emphasise that the RamSan-820 is designed and built in the USA – no job exporting here. ®

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