Texas Memory Doubles High-Availability Capacity

RamSan 820 uses enterprise MLC to provide 24TB in 1U package.

February 29, 2012

3 Min Read
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Texas Memory Systems on Tuesday unveiled the RamSan 820 system, the company’s high-availability (HA) product with double the capacity of its prior RamSan 720.

In the RamSan 820, a single rack can now support as much as a petabyte of high-speed storage. The primary difference between the RamSan 720 and 820 is the use of enterprise multi-level cell (eMLC) flash memory as opposed to single-level cell (SLC) Flash. This effectively doubles the capacity of the system from a maximum 12TB to a maximum of 24TB.

Because of the characteristics of MLC flash, the RamSan 820 is targeted for read-intensive applications that need to store a large data set in a small footprint. High availability usually means multiple nodes or appliances of at least 3U in size. Texas Memory’s approach of purpose-built hardware with multiple PowerPC chips and field-programmable gate arrays provides a highly compact package with all of the high-availability features such as dual hot-swappable controllers and power supplies. Also contributing to its high availability is a self-healing flash RAID system, which stripes data and error correction horizontally within flash modules and vertically across flash modules, including a hot spare module for self-healing purposes.

[ What's behind the latest surge in storage startups? Read more at 3 Top Trends In Storage Startups. ]

Each RamSan 820 has four I/O ports of either Fibre Channel or InfiniBand. These ports pass through both controllers for active-passive operation with complete synchronization. The system supports 400KB I/Os per second, four GBs of bandwidth, and a latency of less than 120uSec. For non-persistent data protection in controllers, a new generation of batteries have been added that use Lithium Iron Phosphate (LIP) for cathode material. This technology was discovered at the University of Texas and has superior cost, electrical output, and safety characteristics when compared to the Li-Ion batteries in laptops and cell phones.

Conventional wisdom says that the best way to build a storage appliance is to start with x86 architecture and use as many industry-standard components as possible. This means that standard operating systems, like Linux, can be deployed and overall development costs minimized. Since Texas Memory Systems has been building solid state memory systems since before the x86-based processor came along, it has had many years to develop and enhance its operating systems and underlying architecture. This is a primary contributor to the highly dense capacity, low latency, and feature set found in the RamSan products.

RamSan has its own Fibre Channel control logic and uses chip-level protocol support for InfiniBand. Separate modules provide external interface control (FC or IB), data switching and RAID, flash control, system management, and power control.

The RamSan 820 has a list price of about $12.50 per GB and is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2012.

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