SAN JOSE – Nimbus Data debuts at this week's Flash Memory Summit its Gemini flash-storage appliance using two novel but unnamed controllers to keep pace with red hot competition in the emerging sector. Gemini packs up to 48 TBytes flash, increases throughput to 12 Gbytes/second, supports four network interfaces and a ten-year product lifetime.
The market for flash-based storage systems in business networks is on the rise as flash prices fall. Last week IBM bought Texas Memory Systems, a privately-held maker of flash-based storage appliances, claiming the sector will expand by several billion dollars over the next four years.
The move came days after startup Skyera came out of stealth mode with a 44 TeraByte appliance selling for as little as $3/Gbyte. Less than two weeks earlier, Fusion-io, the card maker that pioneered putting solid-state drives (SSDs) on the PCI Express bus, launched software to turn servers using its SSDs into storage networking appliances.
The Nimbus debut comes as the Flash Memory Summit opens in Silicon Valley, an event likely to be the launch pad for a variety of SSD cards and systems, including one novel integrated storage system from startup SimpliVity. The event will also host a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the development of flash, honoring pioneer Eli Harari, the founder of SanDisk.
The new flash storage systems target a high performance market that accounts for a third of the terabytes and half the revenues in business storage, said Tom Isakovich, chief executive of Nimbus, founded in 2006. “We have been a top player for some time, but we felt we could raise the bar several more rungs,” he said.
The Nimbus Gemini system uses two new, but unnamed merchant chips. One is a flash controller that aligns data to get full page writes with each operation. That maximizes wear leveling on the flash chips so that Nimbus can offer a ten-year lifetime guarantee on the system.
In addition, the system includes a new and unannounced network controller that supports both Fibre Channel and 10Gbit/s Ethernet. A second networking chip from Mellanox Technologies adds support for 40 Gbit Ethernet and Infiniband, giving Nimbus a novel position with a box supporting all four major data center interconnects.
The new system supports up to 12 GByte/s throughput up from 8 GB/s and 48 Terabits capacity up from 10 TB in prior Nimbus systems. In addition, the systems sports high availability features such as a capability for software upgrades while it is in operation.
“We’ve innovated in hardware and software--others focused on one or another, but without both sides your canvas is a lot smaller,” he said.
Gemini sells for about $8 per Gbyte, is in an early release and will be generally available before the end of the year.
As Flash capacity grows to satisfy the new demand for SSDs in large deployments expect the usual price crash to follow in a few months. Prices below $1 per Gbyte will be here sooner than later. Anyone want to make a prediction on the date for $1 per Gbyte availability?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.