Hitachi releases new 1.6TB flash modules

HDS's new flash module is built specifically for enterprise-class workloads and can offer more than 1 million IOPS

Making good on the flash strategy it announced in August, Hitachi Data Systems has unveiled its first flash module, a 1.6TB SAS-interface flash card.

Three months ago, HDS lifted the covers on its flash strategy saying that like EMC, it will put NAND flash products in servers, storage, and appliances in order to enable compute acceleration, caching and high-performance storage. The new modules and accompanying flash chassis is being marketed for use in enterprise-class mission critical applications such as online transaction processing (OLTP) and financial data and metadata indexing. The company is calling its solid-state platform Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage.

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At the heart of the Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage is a proprietary flash controller, a CPU with firmware that manages its multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash-based storage modules.

"We will not be dependent on any vendor per se for the SSDs [solid state drives]. We can use any. If tomorrow Samsung comes up with a drive that has four times the capacity of today's NAND or Toshiba comes up with 8X NAND, we can use that," said Roberto Basilio, vice president of Infrastructure Platforms Product Management at HDS.

HDS's controller is a multi-core, high bandwidth architecture with up to 128 flash DIMMs (dual in-line memory module). HDS is currently offering a 1.6TB flash module. Next quarter it will add a 3.2TB module. Following that it plans to offer a 6.4TB flash module.

By comparison, flash storage maker Virident offers a flash module called a FlashMAX that is available in both single-level cell (SLC) and MLC NAND flash and range in capacities from 550GB to 2.2TB. The MLC-module can generate 325,000 random read IOPS (using 4K blocks) and one million IOPS using 512-byte blocks). The SLC card is able to generate up to 340,000 IOPS using 4K blocks and 1.4 million IOPS using 512-byte blocks.

Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage also uses a new 8U-high (a U or unit equals 1.75 inches) flash chassis that holds up to 48 drives, a rack-optimized flash module drive (FMD) and associated interconnect cables. The new flash chassis is a set of four drives per 2U-high tray.

Each enclosure can scale from 6.4TB up to 76.8TB of flash storage, giving it 2 times greater density than the largest MLC SSD available today, Hitachi said. Up to four flash enclosures can be housed in Hitachi's high-end Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) array, enabling more than 300TB of flash per system.

The flash storage can be configured for RAID 1, RAID 5 or RAID 6.

The single 1.6TB module, which uses a 6Gbps SAS 2.0 interface, can perform just over one million random read I/Os per second (IOPS) using 8K block sizes and 270,000 random write IOPS, HDS said.

HDS said it would not provide pricing for its drives or storage platforms, "but based on our calculations, Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage is up to 46 percent lower in cost when compared to an MLC SSD of similar capacity," a spokesman wrote in an email reply to Computerworld.

Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage introduces several new capabilities including inline write compression that speeds writes on flash and improves MLC flash memory endurance. When compared to standard 400GB MLC SSDs, Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage has four times better performance, improved environmental characteristics (power and space), the company said.

Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage is fully compatible with all Hitachi VSP features, including Hitachi Dynamic Tiering (HDT), which allows data to be moved to different tiers of storage based on use patterns.

"Today's announcement is a milestone achievement in how flash technology will be used in the enterprise data center moving forward," Basilio said in a statement. "Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage is the first flash device that is optimized for the performance and reliability required for mission-critical applications."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

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This story, "Hitachi releases new 1.6TB flash modules" was originally published by Computerworld .

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