With the introduction of the RamSan 400, solid state disk vendor Texas Memory Systems has trumped the speed and performance of its own products.
The RamSan 400, a solid state disk with 4 gigabit Fibre Channel interfaces that can perform 500,000 I/Os per second, is available in capacities ranging from 32GB to 128GB.
Although the companys previous product, based on 2G Fibre Channel technology, performed fast enough for many customers, some customers found that they were hampered by the 2G Fibre Channel speed limitations, said Woody Hutsell, executive vice president of the Houston, Texas-based company.
“Most of our customers are [concerned with] database environments, and for those customers, systems are typically configured so that they have one link thats moving data between their server and storage device,” he said.
“By moving to the 4G interface connection, we can do more of their database transactions on a single link than we could do before.”
The additional speed is very important in several sectors. The financial sector, for example, needs lightning-fast speed for streaming stock pricing, stock order processing, financial trading and a host of banking applications, while government and telecommunications are other heavy users.
Although some may consider the additional speed overkill, more speed is always a good idea, said David Freund, practice leader for information architectures at Illuminata Inc. of Nashua, N.H.
“In some ways, its like asking why cache is a good idea,” he said. “They are catering to the guys with an extreme need for speed, one such that no matter what they do, they cant get their OLTP [online transaction processing] databases backed up. There will be some people who will want to grab this.”
In addition to speed, the RamSan 400 also has increased its bandwidth. Although that market is still a relatively small part of Texas Memory Systems Inc.s business today, Hutsell pointed to an increasing need in many industries, such as the entertainment industry and high performance computing, where moving large amounts of data quickly is critical. Examples include digital streaming video, nonlinear video editing and video on demand.
As the market changes, Freund said, we see an increased role for the solid state disk. The chief change is the slow move toward true virtualization, he said, where tools are coming to market that can determine what kind of files are more frequently accessed than others and automatically move them to other tiers of storage. As this automatic migration begins to occur, solid state disks could fit nicely as a “zero tier”—the speed tier—of a tiered storage infrastructure, Freund said.
As for Texas Memory Systems, in addition to looking for ways to improve the performance, reliability and availability of its solid state disks, the company is considering expanding into other technologies that could help its customers with application performance issues.
“Well be looking at some other interface options, which might open up some other market. We could be doing an InfiniBand Interface—something that would get us more into the high performance computing industry,” Hutsell said. “And we could look at other solutions where we can take advantage of our technology and offer extremely high performance—maybe with some different products. Its feasible that we could offer RAID solutions, whether its a combination of our product with somebody elses RAID, or our own RAID system.”