EMC Launches Latest Salvo in Flash Memory Wars

Michael Vizard

EMC today not only launched faster Flash memory cards and an all-Flash storage array, for the first time it is signaling its intention to provide the software needed to unify the management of Flash memory.

According to Barry Ader, general manager for the EMCFlash Business Unit, EMC is looking to bring a certain amount of balance to the use of Flash memory on the server and in a primary storage device using a software-defined architecture.

Based on EMC’s existing XtremSW Cache, EMC is developing EMC XtremSW Suite to manage not only multiple types of Flash memory cards based on eMLC and SLC solid-state drive (SSD) technologies, but also Flash storage arrays. In addition, EMC plans to tightly couple that software with VMware management software.

In the meantime, EMC is shipping XtremSF Flash storage that can be configured using SSDs based on eMLC and SLC technology and deployed on either a server or on existing EMC storage arrays. Ader says that XtremSF provides access to 2.2TB of Flash storage across eight PCIe lanes of bandwidth, which is two times the bandwidth of any other offering. Moreover, storage processing is offloaded to the XtremSF, which Ader says means customers don’t have to upgrade their servers to take advantage of Flash memory.

Finally, EMC says it is delivering an XtremIO Flash storage array to select customers. EMC claims the XtremIO Flash array exceeds 150,000 functional 4,000 mixed read/write IOPS, and 250,000 functional 4,000-read IOPS for each “X-Brick” in the XtremIO array, and over 1.2 million functional IOPS and 2 million functional 4,000-read IOPS when scaled out to a cluster of eight X-Bricks.

Obviously, storage vendors are in a race to provide Flash memory storage solutions on both servers and arrays that will not only transform how storage is managed, but also boost application performance by factors of 10 to 100. Which vendor will win that race, however, will come down to not only who has the fastest Flash offerings, but also makes managing multiple tiers of storage, that now range from Flash memory to tape and back again, relatively simple.

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