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EMC gobbles up top-secret flash startup DSSD

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EMC World 2014 Data storage giant EMC has acquired a stealthy startup named DSSD led by some of the top brains behind the ZFS filesystem.

EMC announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire the "rack-scale flash storage" company DSSD during a press conference at its EMC World conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

DSSD is a stealth-mode startup that is believed to be working on advanced RAID systems for flash storage. It was founded by ZFS-creators Jeff Bonwick and Bill Moore and its chairman is Sun Microsystems's pioneer Andy Bechtolsheim.

"Rack-scale flash storage... we think it's going to change the game from a server-side flash perspective and target some of these newer workloads like SAP Hana," said EMC product chief Jeremy Burton at the press conference.

DSSD has been awarded several patents in areas like storage systems with a unified address space , a storage system with self-describing data, a global namespace system with consistent hashing, and systems for RAID reconstruction, among others.

"The prospects of what EMC and DSSD can achieve together are truly remarkable. We ventured out to create a new storage tier for transactional and Big Data applications that have the highest performance I/O requirements," Bechtolsheim said in a canned quote.

"Working together with EMC, DSSD will deliver a new type of storage system with game-changing latency, IOPS and bandwidth characteristics while offering the operational efficiency of shared storage."

DSSD chief executive Bill Moore will lead the DSSD business within EMC and Bechtolsheim will remain as a strategic advisor. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.

Update:

"With the team from DSSD we are writing the definitive next chapter in server-attached flash storage," said EMC chief David Gouldon in a keynote speech on Monday, noting that the technology is "an order of magnitude faster than anything you can get today. Hundreds of terabytes of capacity that can be addressed as storage or as an extension of memory."

After the keynote, the team from DSSD gave some further information on their company's tech to the assembled murder of hacks during a press conference.

"On the hardware side, the question is how do you design a storage system that extracts all the performance latent [in flash]," explained DSSD founder Bill Moore. "The other part is how do you take that level of performance and express it in a way that apps can consume."

EMC did not disclose any product areas DSSD might go into, nor give further details on the tech. The company expects to have a finished product in 2015, Bechtolsheim said.

In a subsequent chat with El Reg, Bill Moore told us the tech is designed to get the most performance possible out of "tens of thousands of NAND chips," and the team has developed some advanced technology to maximize performance. Much of the tech relates to optimizing the placement of data along with the frequency with which it is accessed, we understand, so those RAID patents (see above) are worth paying attention to.

"Everything is software down to the microcode you use to twiddle the little knobs," he explained. ®

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