While Flash storage in the form of solid-state drives (SSDs) has been a boon to application performance, the form factor itself is an artificial construct designed to appear to a server as a simply faster hard drive. But with the arrival of NVMe interfaces on servers, it’s now possible to plug Flash modules into a server to realize the true performance capabilities of Flash memory.
Pure Storage this week moved to become one of the first storage vendors to make that capability affordable to a larger number of IT organizations with the launch of a FlashArray//X storage array that employs DirectFlash Modules rather than SSDs.
Matt Kixmoeller, vice president of products for Pure Storage, says those modules, when combined with an NVMe controller and DirectFlash software to manage garbage collection and other housekeeping functions across multiple modules, will provide access to as much as 9.1TB of raw Flash memory storage per module. Later this year, Pure Storage plans to push that capacity up to 18.3 TB per module.
Pricing for the FlashArray//X, says Kixmoeller, will be modestly higher than existing Flash arrays based on SSDs. As such, arrays based on SSDs will not entirely disappear. But Kixmoeller says it’s clear that higher-end application workloads will be moving away from SSDs.
“We think this new platform will appeal to the top 30 to 40 percent of block-based workloads,” says Kixmoeller.
It may take a while for systems using NVMe to accelerate I/O performance to proliferate across the enterprise. But the one thing that is clear is that the performance of applications running on these systems is going to be several orders of magnitude faster than what can be achieved today using legacy servers and SSDs.