TORONTO -- HGST made a series of new product announcements as part of its initiative to create what it calls a “Flash fabric.” At a live streaming event September 9, Mike Gustafson, senior VP and GM of HGST Flash Platforms Group, said the company sees Flash as a platform, noting that half of all enterprises have deployed it in some form. The company’s Flash fabric will provide complete control of the entire stack, he said, including applications, compute, and storage, and address a common challenge for enterprises when they deploy Flash -- overprovisioning and underutilization.
Storage area network (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) drove better usage of storage because they came with software intelligence, said Gustafson. “Those same requirements are needed for Flash to be a platform.”
HGST is leveraging technologies from several recent acquisitions, including server SAN support based on its Virident space technology, which enables clustering of up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe storage devices, providing one or more shared volumes exceeding 38 TB of usable storage capacity. The company said the clustering is well suited to shared storage applications such as Oracle RAC and Red Hat Global File System that have traditionally used dedicated SAN storage. It can also be added to Virident Share for Flash pooling and remote access, Virident ClusterCache for SAN acceleration, and Virident HA for replication. “Any server that joins the fabric has access to the Flash,” said Gustafson.
HGST also announced the Ultrastar SN100 PCIe SSDs in capacities of up to 3.2 TB. They are available in 2.5-inch, half-length, and half-height form factors with an NVMe interface built using Toshiba NAND chips. The NVMe extensions enable the software to interface with the drive’s Flash management to provide the better performance and endurance required by enterprises, Gustafson said.
One of the advantages of NVMe is that it gets storage closer to the processor and as a result reduces latency, which lowers the performance gap between processor speed and storage that has been enhanced by Flash.
HGST is not limiting its collaboration to Toshiba. The company also extended a development partnership with Intel to use its NAND Flash technology for SAS SSDs. HGST has been working with Intel to develop enterprise-class SAS SSDs for servers, workstations, and storage systems since 2008.
Jim Handy, principal analyst with Objective Analysis, said HGST is one of two companies doing well in the enterprise SSD space, the other being SanDisk. “HGST really took the bull by horns with the Intel relationship.” This has allowed HGST to dominate SAS SSDs. Now they are addressing the other enterprise opportunities.
He said the ability to share Flash between different systems, even those that don't have PCIe cards, is a really good idea, especially in the era of virtualization. HGST’s implementation is unique in that it doesn’t require a special network.
HGST’s Flash strategy can be credited in part to recent acquisitions. Western Digital, HGST’s parent company, recently bulked up its Flash business by buying Virident, sTec, and Velobit, placing them under its subsidiary. Meanwhile, SanDisk recently acquired Fusion-io as part of its strategy to expand its SSD line that supports the PCIe interconnect.
Handy said the Virident acquisition has given HGST high-performance PCIe technology, while the sTtec acquisition has provided the company with strong controller technology. “Controller technology makes all the difference in the world.”