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Samsung, Sun Partner On Flash Memory Device For Servers

Samsung Electronics and Sun Microsystems on Thursday said they have co-developed a high-performance flash memory device for solid-state drives used in computer servers.

The single-level-cell device offers a fivefold increase in data write-and-erase cycles over similar products on the market today, according to the companies. The 8-GB device also has a higher endurance level to extend the life cycle of a high-transaction data processing server. A single-level-cell flash memory device stores 1 bit of data in each cell.

Potential applications for the new product include video streaming, high-transaction data processing, search engine operations, and other high-speed server functions, the companies said. The server-grade memory will offer a hundredfold increase over conventional hard drives in the number of data transfers, or input/output per second, per watt. This improvement is expected to provide "substantial power savings" in data centers.

"Sun sees incredible upside to using server grade SLC NAND flash to accelerate customers' applications, and we plan to incorporate this technology into our line of servers and storage," Michael Cornwell, lead technologist for flash memory at Sun, said in a statement.

Sun announced last month that it would start selling SSDs in storage systems this year. The company did not disclose pricing or capacity, but said it planned to optimize SSDs for the MySQL database and other applications.

In general, flash memory-based drives offer companies the option of using storage devices with higher performance at lower energy consumption than traditional spinning disk offerings. SSDs have no moving parts, and are generally faster and more reliable.

SSDs, however, carry a steep premium. While a conventional 1-TB hard drive costs about $550, an SSD of similar capacity can run more than $10,000.

Sun is not alone in targeting SSDs for storage products. EMC, for example, has added flash-based SSDs to its high-end Symmetrix arrays. The drives are being positioned for use in applications such as database backup and replication.