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Howard Marks
Howard Marks
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Can Anyone Challenge STEC?

just about every array vendor targeting the enterprise or high performance midrange market has integrated the ZEUS iops into their arrays. Do Dell Equallogic and Pillar have a better RAID approach to STEC's SLED? If not where's the second source?

It's been about 18 months since STEC released their astoundingly fast ZEUS iops flash SSD establishing what EMC dubbed the enterprise flash drive (EFD) market.  Since then just about every array vendor targeting the enterprise or high performance midrange market has integrated the ZEUS iops into their arrays.  This begs the question where's the second source?

While many companies take MLC flash chips and turn them into SATA SSDs for laptops and speed freak enthusiasts building systems that let them kill zombies faster than their friends and neighbors no one else building devices with SAS or Fibre Channel interfaces that turn in even half the performance of a ZEUS iops.  Last month STEC announced that an unnamed customer (I'm guessing it has a three letter name and headquarters in the northeast) will buy $120 millon worth of ZEUS iops which drove their stock up to $34.

You would think seeing STEC selling for a 300:1 P:E ratio would have a Sand Hill Road VCs waving money at silicon valley engineers to come up with a SAS SSD that turned in even half of the ZEUS iops' 16K write IOPs.  This may change soon as Toshiba and BitMicro have announced Fibre Channel interface SLC based devices and SandForce's SF-1500 controller promises 30K IOPs if and when someone packages it up into a full module with a SATA or SAS interface.

For products shipping in volume the closest anyone's come to date are Intel and Samsung's SLC SSDs both of which have SATA interfaces only. Intel's X25-E deliver's 3.3K IOPs almost a quarter the ZEUS iops' performance and does it for a street price of around $700 for 64GB. Given that a 73GB ZEUS iops could set you back $15,000 1/5th the performance for 1/20th

the price could be a good deal.

Howard Marks is founder and chief scientist at Deepstorage LLC, a storage consultancy and independent test lab based in Santa Fe, N.M. and concentrating on storage and data center networking. In more than 25 years of consulting, Marks has designed and implemented storage ... View Full Bio
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