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Solid-State Storage Will Transform Enterprise IT, HP Says

Solid-state technology will bring about fundamental changes to business technology and transform many parts of enterprise IT, thanks in part to the performance gains it offers, Hewlett-Packard believes. But there are several major challenges that must be overcome before solid-state technology plays a big role in tech products that populate business data centers, HP distinguished technologist Jieming Zhu said in an interview with Byte and Switch.

Several enterprise IT vendors have been jumping on the solid-state bandwagon recently. Companies like EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) , Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: JAVA), Samsung Corp. , Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Compellent Technologies Inc. , Verari Systems Inc. , IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), NetApp Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), and others have announced solid-state drives, products with SSDs, or plans to support SSD technology. Intel recently called solid-state drives "the future of storage."

HP agrees with that assessment, Zhu says, noting that research firm IDC predicts that SSDs will achieve a 70 percent compound growth by 2012. That growth will be driven by three factors, he said: performance, reduced energy consumption, and ruggedness.

"Solid-state storage technology offers performance that is 10 times to 30 times better than what is available with conventional drives. They also consume very little power, and they are rugged and can handle shocks better," he says. "Solid-state technology will emerge as tier zero storage."

Zhu is careful to distinguish between current solid-state drives, which he feels have limits, and solid-state technology, which he believes has a long and bright future. SSDs based on NAND flash will run into a wall as they shrink down from 60 nanometers to 50 nm to 40 nm to 30 nm. "Beyond that density you have some issues, and there is a lot of fundamental research going on at HP and other places to understand what limits there are."

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