EMC Unveils Solid-State Memory Card for Servers

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2012-02-07 Print this article Print

EMC's first PCIe NAND flash card puts a measure of storage directly into any server for speeding up high-transaction applications.

Storage, security and virtualization giant EMC had never encroached on the server business in the past, but it's now literally getting inside them, thanks to a new product it introduced Feb. 6.

Completing a promise it made at EMC world in May 2011, EMC unveiled its first PCIe NAND flash card that puts a measure of storage directly into any server connected to storage. The VFCache contains software that controls the speedy new entry to storage-area networks while keeping the most-used data in high-speed single-level-cell (SLC) flash memory for most efficient use. In the newest EMC systems, VFCache hands off the data to the company's Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) software en route to its array home.

PCIe: A Major Storage Trend

eWEEK identified PCIe as a major storage trend last August. Analyst Jim Handy of Objective Analysis said his firm is forecasting that the NAND flash-powered PCIe interface will become dominant in the enterprise solid-state disk market in 2012, with unit shipments greater than the combined shipments of its SAS and Fibre Channel counterparts.

The EMC news is more evidence of the increasing momentum in the PCIe card sector. PCIe card units, which contain a high amount of NAND flash, replace spinning disk drives in specific use cases to bring major performance increases into systems that process a high number of transactions per minute or per second.

Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, PCIe, was created by Intel and launched in 2004. It is a computer expansion-card standard based on point-to-point serial links rather than a shared parallel bus architecture, and is designed to replace the older PCI, PCI-X and AGP standards.

PCIe-based flash storage has the ability to bypass traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies, increasing throughput and enabling more efficient processing of massive quantities of data. For that reason, it is considered a prime tool for big data-type analytics workloads, which have been steadily increasing in numbers.

Most of the storage companies that deal in NAND flash are now providing a PCIe product of some kind, including Fusion i-o, STEC, Samsung, OCZ, Texas Memory, Unex, Schooner and others.

EMC's customers have purchased a whopping 1.3 exabytes of EMC storage powered by FAST since the software was launched in January 2010. It is one of EMC's fastest-growing storage software products, Mark Sorenson told eWEEK.

Other company metrics, Sorenson said, are that EMC shipped about 24PBs of flash drive capacity in 2011, which represents 8X growth, compared with 2009€”the first year EMC began shipping solid-state storage of any kind inside an array.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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