Texas Touts High-Capacity SSD

Texas Memory unveils the RamSan-440, which it claims is the shape of things to come

July 25, 2008

3 Min Read
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In a move that Texas Memory Systems believes will have a major impact on the enterprise, the company unveiled its RamSan-440 this week, which it is touting as the highest-capacity RAM-based solid-state disk (SSD).

The latest in a slew of SSD announcements from a plethora of vendors, the RamSan-440 is a non-volatile RAM-based disk that can sustain up to 600,000 IOPS and deliver up to 512GB of storage capacity in a 4U rack-mount chassis.

Texas Memory also claims that the RamSan-440 is the first SSD to use RAIDed NAND Flash for data backup. RAIDed technology protects against the loss of an entire memory board in the event of a failure, ensuring that if a Flash memory module fails, a parity module protects the data.

RAM-based SSDs are the future in the enterprise, according to Woody Hutsell, executive vice president of Texas Memory Systems. "The RamSan-440 is more than just the market leader in performance," he claims, touting the device's "enterprise-grade reliability" thanks to its RAIDed feature and "ease of deployment."

But Texas Memory Systems isn't the only company getting in on the SSD game. Earlier this year, disk supplier STEC introduced Zeus-IOPS, a NAND-based SSD with a 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel interface. Zeus-IOPS has already been rubber-stamped by EMC for its Symmetrix system and is being tested by video-on-demand hardware supplier Concurrent Computer.Other vendors have also thrown their weight behind NAND Flash in recent months, notably Samsung and Sun, which announced a partnership to develop a single-cell NAND Flash memory device earlier this month.

The increase in SSD offerings is most likely attributed to the current data explosion, forcing users to seek increasingly innovative ways to handle their information. Just last July, for example, an IDC report predicted SSDs would soon become more ubiquitous and could see revenues skyrocket from $373 million in 2006 to $5.4 billion by 2011.

But that doesn't mean that SSD doesn't have its detractors and there are some major issues companies like Texas Memory Systems and STEC need to overcome. Besides being far more expensive than hard disk drives, SSDs are reportedly more prone to failure than HDDs. And the benefits of better performance may not translate to every application currently running in the enterprise.

To make matters worse, the SSDs haven't been adopted nearly as fast as expected so far this year, and some are wondering if storage managers really care about some of those performance benefits.

"Midway through 2008, despite all the hype, there has been little effect on demand for HDDs," states John Chen, senior director and SSD team leader at analyst firm Trendfocus. "But as flash costs fall and SSD designs improve, the battle between HDDs and SSDs for market leadership will last for years."Texas Memory Systems nonetheless believes that it's adequately positioned to capitalize on the growth in the industry and provide real alternatives to HDD and other solid state disks.

According to the company, it believes that its own brand of RAM-based technology is pushing the SSD envelope thanks to its ability to work well with higher-level applications such as online transaction processing, data warehousing, and batch processing. Texas Memory Systems's SSDs are already being used in online-gaming industries, finance, the military and government sectors, according to the vendor.

That said, EMC is also fleshing out its own Flash-based SSD strategy, attempting to make its Symmetrix solution a "tier-one" offering that would work in conjunction with HDDs. Shrewdly, this positions as SSD as an increasingly viable option for companies that are looking to save money, but also increase performance.

Regardless, the future looks bright for SSDs.

"IT managers are seeking faster application performance as they store and interact with larger pools of data within their data centers," said Jeff Janukowicz, research manager for solid state drives at IDC, in a statement earlier this week.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • IDC

  • Samsung Corp.

  • STEC Inc.

  • Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA)

  • Texas Memory Systems Inc.

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