Sun Unveils 2 TB Flash Storage Array

The storage device's benchmarks may make it the highest-performing solid-state drive array on the market.

Antone Gonsalves

October 12, 2009

3 Min Read
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Sun Microsystems on Monday introduced a flash-based storage array that may be the highest-performing solid-state drive array to date.

The Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array was unveiled at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco. Oracle announced in April plans to acquire Sun for $7.4 billion. The deal is pending approval from the Justice Department.

The F5100 is designed to accelerate Oracle and MySQL database workloads. If Oracle is successful in buying Sun, the software maker will also own MySQL, an open source database that Sun bought last year for $1 billion.

The new Sun flash array features up to 2 TB of solid-state capacity and 1.6 million read and 1.2 million write IOPS (input/output operations per second), according to Sun. If such performance levels are accurate, then the storage device may be the highest performing flash-based array to date.

Sun says the F5100, which includes as many as 80 NAND flash modules, is comparable to 3,000 enterprise hard disk drives that span 14 data center racks and consume 40,000 watts. The F5100, however, is delivered in a single rack unit and consumes only 300 watts.

Sun offered some impressive benchmarks based on the use of the F5100 with its Sun Fire X4270 server. The hardware is currently under evaluation by the San Diego Supercomputer Center as part of its archiving service, which hosts more than 100 million files.

The F5100 leverages Sun's ZFS file system that's part of the company's Solaris operating system. "No other vendor today is shipping fully integrated flash-based hardware and software that leverages a world-class operating system to deliver breakthrough performance and value to our customers," John Fowler, executive VP of Sun's Systems Group, said in a statement.

Sun has been advocating a flash data form factor for storage for quite awhile. In March, the company proposed a new standard for a form factor about the size of a typical memory card, which Sun claims is significantly smaller than existing SSDs. The entry-level capacity for the proposed device would be 24 GB.

Sun has also added flash technology to its Storage 7000 unified storage line, and has optimized ZFS for flash by bringing together DRAM, SSDs, and more traditional hard drives all working in a storage pool.

Sun also has built SSD flash technology into its x64-based, multithreaded blade systems.

The higher performance and lower power usage of SSDs have attracted the attention of corporations, which have found the significantly higher cost of the devices over traditional HDDs justified for some data center applications.

Sales in the enterprise market are expected to drive SSD revenue this year to $883 million, up from $127 million last year, according to iSuppli. Unit shipments will increase to 5.8 million units, up from 1.4 million in 2008.

With the global economy improving, SSD vendors expect next year and 2011 to also be exceptionally strong years as data centers and IT computing infrastructures ramp up their adoption.

The InformationWeek/bMighty Data Centers For Growing Companies virtual event explores the latest technology and tools you can use to manage your growing IT needs. Oct. 21, 2009. Find out more and register.

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