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Texas Memory Upgrades Flash Memory Card

Texas Memory Systems RamSan-70
(click image for larger view)
Texas Memory Systems RamSan-70

Texas Memory Systems (TMS) released its fastest flash memory card recently, the RamSan-70, a PCIe card that is half the size and three times as fast as its previous models.

The RamSan-70, which is codenamed "Gorilla", is a complete integrated storage system on a single board. It can provide 450 GB to 900 GB of capacity and features Toshiba's newest 32-nanometer single-level cell NAND flash chips. The half-length PCIe card has 900 GB of usable SLC Flash capacity that Texas Memory claims delivers 330,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS) and 2 Gbps of bandwidth.

"It's a PCIe flash-based solid-state disk aimed at the direct-attached storage on steroids market, Jamon Bowen , TMS director of sales engineering, said in an interview. "It's meant for people that need lots of local performance on a server."

The RamSan-70 is the first product powered by TMS' new Series-7 Flash Controller, which is based on Xilinx field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and a PowerPC processor. The Series-7 Flash Controller handles all Flash management functions without impacting the host CPU. Its lifespan is between six to 10 years, Bowen said. The card has proprietary, enterprise-level RAID and an advanced error correction algorithm.

The RamSan-70 is the geared toward data warehousing, enterprise resource planning, sophisticated data acquisition, scientific computing, and Web content. "We have a complete system on board," Bowen said. "So it's important for people that want [direct-attached storage] server appliances, such as customers that are using an embedded database for medical images; a service where doctors can connect to the system and use the database to collaborate."

The RamSan-70 can be configured with Flash or RAM storage media, and is available in form factors ranging from PCIe cards to 4U rackmount systems with 10 Gbps bandwidth and 1 million IOPS. TMS claims the card increases performance by at least three times, while doubling capacity of the previous RamSan-20 PCIe SSD card. The suggested retail price is $15,000 per card.

"IT managers are always looking for ways to increase I/O performance, reduce latency, and improve overall system efficiency," said Jeff Janukowicz, research manager for solid state storage technology at IDC, in a release. "A PCIe Flash SSD, such as Texas Memory Systems' RamSan-70, can solve many of these issues for IT managers and delivers a cost-effective solution for most demanding enterprise applications."

The market for TMS's high-end flash memory is growing, as pent-up demand due to the economic recession and a recovering economy has sparked the largest ever one-year increase in semiconductor revenue, according to a report from Gartner. NAND flash grew by 38.6% in 2010.

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