Flash Storage Made Less Expensive, Faster

Texas Memory Systems has added a less expensive, faster and smaller form-factor flash storage array to its line of solid-state products.

The RamSan-620, announced last week, fits up to 5TB of flash memory into a 2U chassis, half the physical size of Texas Memory's RamSan-500, which fits a maximum of 2TB. Texas Memory has also significantly increased the speed, with 250,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) for both read and write operations. That's significantly faster than the RamSan-500, which delivers 100,000 read IOPS and 25,000 write operations per second.

Faster performance "is just a product of us getting better at engineering flash controllers," says Woody Hutsell, president of Texas Memory Systems.

Texas Memory has been selling solid-state disks for three decades, specializing in RAM-based drives. The company entered the flash market early last year to take advantage of growing enterprise interest in the technology as well as dropping prices of flash chips. The fastest system announced by Texas Memory is the RamSan-5000, which delivers 1 million read operations per second. But that requires purchasing 20TB of flash memory at a price of roughly $1.5 million. (Compare storage products.)

While the RamSan-500 cost $150,000 for 2TB, list prices for the 620 are $88,000 for 2TB and $220,000 for 5TB.  

The 620 is ideal for online transaction processing, data warehousing, high-performance data acquisition, batch processing and video editing, according to Texas Memory. The storage system uses single level cell flash chips, draws 325 watts, and supports between two and eight Fibre Channel or InfiniBand links.

Even though Texas Memory's newest flash product is faster and less expensive than its predecessor, there are some shortcomings compared to the RamSan-500.

The 500, for example, includes a cache of up to 64GB of RAM, effectively allowing customers to have two tiers of storage within a single system. The new RamSan-620 is flash-only.

Secondly, the 620 lacks system-level RAID, Hutsell says. The system is composed of 20 cards, each holding flash memory. If a chip on a single card fails, then no data is lost, but if an entire card fails the system will lose data, Hutsell says.

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