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Xiotech Sets Sights on Solid State

Could the market for solid-state disk (SSD) products be finally picking up speed? SAN vendor Xiotech clearly thinks so, becoming the latest firm to enter the SSD fray this week. (See Xiotech Supports Drives.)

The vendor unveiled support for Fibre Channel-attached SSD drives on its Magnitude 3D 3000 storage systems, citing significant performance benefits over traditional disk. "The promise of SSD has always been there," explains Rob Peglar, Xiotech's vice president of technology, adding that he foresees a "substantial spike" in the use of solid state.

The idea behind the technology, which has been around for a couple of decades, is that it can speed up the transfer of data for I/O-intensive processes like those in databases, enabling applications to run faster. This, according to Peglar, removes the need for users to deploy more servers and storage for I/O-hungry applications.

SSD products use random access memory (RAM), as opposed to traditional magnetic or optical media, to store and access data. As a result, access speeds are typically much higher than traditional disk: 5 milliseconds for magnetic versus as little as 20 microseconds for solid state. Backers of this approach also promote it as a way to minimize or eliminate server I/O bottlenecks.

But this performance comes at a cost. Peglar admits that the technology is still more expensive than traditional magnetic media, although he argues that, on a per I/O basis, it works out to be less expensive. Typically, adds the exec, magnetic media can handle hundreds of I/Os per second, whereas SSD can cope with tens of thousands.

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