NexGen comes out of stealth
NexGen Storage a local storage company came out of stealth today and is also generally available. Their storage system has been in beta since April 2011 and is in use by a number of customers today.
Their product uses DRAM caching, PCIe NAND flash, and nearline SAS drives to provide guaranteed QoS for LUN I/O. The system can provision IOP rate, bandwidth and (possibly) latency over a set of configured LUNs. Such provisioning can change using policy management on a time basis to support time-based tiering. Also, one can prioritize how important the QoS is for a LUN so that it could be guaranteed or could be sacrificed to support performance for other storage system LUNs.
The NexGen storage provides a multi-tiered hybrid storage system that supports 10GBE iSCSI, and uses MLC NAND PCIe card to boost performance for SAS nearline drives. NexGen also supports data deduplication which is done during off-peak times to reduce data footprint.
DRAM replacing Disk!?
In a report by ARS Technica, a research group out of Stanford is attempting to gang together server DRAM to create a networked storage system. There have been a number of attempts to use DRAM as a storage system in the past but the Stanford group is going after it in a different way by aggregating together DRAM across a gaggle of servers. They are using standard disks or SSDs for backup purposes because DRAM is, of course, a volatile storage device but the intent is to keep all in memory to speed up performance.
I was at SNW USA a couple of weeks ago talking to a Taiwanese company that was offering a DRAM storage accelerator device which also used DRAM as a storage service. Of course, Texas Memory Systems and others have had DRAM based storage for a while now. The cost for such devices was always pretty high but the performance was commensurate.
In contrast, the Stanford group is trying to use commodity hardware (servers) with copious amounts of DRAM, to create a storage system. The article seems to imply that the system could take advantage of unused DRAM, sitting around your server farm. But, I find it hard to believe that. Most virtualized server environments today are running lean on memory and there shouldn’t be a lot of excess DRAM capacity hanging around.
The other achilles heel of the Stanford DRAM storage is that it is highly dependent on low latency networking. Although Infiniband probably qualifies as low latency, it’s not low latency enough to support this systems IO workloads. As such, they believe they need even lower latency networking than Infiniband to make it work well.
Speaking of PCIe NAND flash, OCZ just announced speedier storage, upping the random read IO rates up to 245K from the 230K IOPS offered in their previous PCIe NAND storage. Unclear what they did to boost this but, it’s entirely possible that they have optimized their NAND controller to support more random reads.
OCZ’s been busy. Now that the enterprise is moving to adopt MLC and eMLC SSD storage, it seems time to introduce TLC (3-bits/cell) SSDs. With TLC, the price should come down a bit more (see chart in article), but the endurance should also suffer significantly. I suppose with the capacities available with TLC and enough over provisioning OCZ can make a storage device that would be reliable enough for certain applications at a more reasonable cost.
I never thought I would see MLC in enterprise storage so, I suppose at some point even TLC makes sense, but I would be even more hesitant to jump on this bandwagon for awhile yet.
Early last week Solid Fire, another local SSD startup obtained $25M in additional funding. Solid Fire, an all SSD storage system company, is still technically in beta but expect general availability near the end of the year. We haven’t talked about them before in RayOnStorage but they are focusing on cloud service providers with an all SSD solution which includes deduplication. I promise to talk about them some more when they reach GA.
Finally, in the highend consumer space, LaCie just released a new SSD which attaches to servers/desktops using the new Apple-Intel Thunderbolt IO interface. Given the expense (~$900) for 128GB SSD, it seems a bit much but if you absolutely have to have the performance this may be the only way to go.
Well that’s about all I could find on SSD and DRAM storage announcements. However, I am sure I missed a couple so if you know one I should have mentioned please comment.