Data Center Tech Blog
John Scaramuzzo

Senior Vice President, SanDisk Enterprise Storage Solutions

Data centers necessitate different storage environments: from the highest end of high performance computing, all the way to the bottom tier of cold archival storage. Flash has emerged as a disrupting force to drastically improve IO and latency performance of tier 1 environments such as virtualization, analytics, and web applications. However, the progression of flash density (I recently wrote about the upcoming emergence of 8TB SAS SSDs), its small form factor (that affords form flexibility in all new locations, such as our ULLtraDIMM) and TCO benefits such as reducing hardware bulk, cooling needs and power costs, will see flash advance even further into new tiers.

I presented a keynote session at the Storage Visions conference, which is co-located with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, titled ‘Enabling the All-Flash Data Center’. In this presentation I described some of these upcoming advancements. While spinning drives have almost reached their maximum capacity and speed, flash is just beginning to be unleashed in data center technology. Already, SSD performance is 100x that of HDDs, and higher densities will tip the equation even further. One example I gave in the keynote was that it takes several hundred 15K HDDs to build a 186K IOPS database, while it takes only 50 Optimus Eco drives to build a 4.9M IOPS database that offers the same capacity. And the cost? It’s actually less.

The value of SSDs is not just decided in the cost per gigabyte, it’s also decided in the speed and latency of the device. When you begin measuring in terms of the scaling of the technology, fewer racks needed, less cooling and power, and incomparable performance results, the value of SSDs is truly reaching a cross point. By the way, at this week’s Storage Visions conference, the Visionary Product Award in the “Enabling Professional Storage Technology” category was given to SanDisk® and its development partner Diablo Technology, for the ULLtraDIMM™ Solid State Drive (SSD), the industry’s first enterprise-class, ultra-low latency, memory-channel connected storage solution.

It was especially rewarding to speak with industry leaders, analysts and colleagues and take them through this roadmap. Here is what George Crump of the industry analyst firm Storage Switzerland had to say:

The part of John’s presentation that got me thinking was the value of flash storage in a more capacity-centric, tier-2 storage environment, basically near-active but not ‘cold’ data. This traditionally is the domain of mid-capacity hard drives, where storage must perform well but still provide an excellent cost per GB. Today, and for the foreseeable future, hard drives still win if all you look at is the acquisition price per TB

…However, what if you considered the cost of capacity from a total cost of ownership (TCO) perspective? What’s the cost to provide floor space, power and cooling to a server or group of servers (more common in the cloud environment) filled with 2TB hard disk drives? When you look at the TCO of that capacity, drive density becomes a factor. The problem for hard drive technology is that as the density increases throughput speed generally declines.”

You can read George Crumps’ full session notes ‘All-Flash Data Center – Sooner Than You Think?’ on

I also had the chance to stop by the TweakTown booth to discuss the increasing proliferation of flash in the datacenter with Paul Alcorn and to talk about ULLtraDIMM, flash endurance, TCO, and the possibility of TLC NAND in the datacenter.

Another example that came up in my conversation with Paul was surrounding the concerns of endurance. Many people don’t realize that even the fastest 15K HDD can only write 390GB of random data per day, per slot. However, our Optimus Eco SATA SSD delivers a maximum of 3 drive writes per day, enabling 6TB of possible writes per day, from the very same slot.

You can watch the entire 8-minute interview below, and share your thoughts on the future of flash and what you think of an all-flash data center using #AFDC on Twitter, or reach out to our enterprise team at @SanDiskDataCtr

ULLtraDIMM’s Innovation Recognized in a BIG Way in 2014

ULLtraDIMM Brings Flash Closer to the Server Processor

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