RealTime IT News

Solid-State Drive Tech Breaks a Few Records

Pushing the envelope in solid-state drive (SSD) performance isn't anything to scoff at. But industry-watchers are far more excited about the potential impact that Texas Memory Systems' latest results could have in encouraging enterprises to adopt the technology.

The vendor's RamSan-400 SSD product hit 291,208.58 input/output requests per second (IOPS), with an average response time of 0.86 milliseconds -- a record for benchmarking tests conducted through the Storage Performance Council (SPC), a storage industry association and standards body.

Prior to the testing -- aimed at simulating typical online transaction processing environments -- IBM had held the SPC-1 performance record for a system built around its System Storage and SAN Volume Controller.

Perhaps just as importantly, the latest test results also set a new price/performance record of 67 cents per IOPS.

According to the SPC, the audited benchmark results validate that high computing performance can be achieved at a reasonable cost.

"This makes the assertion that the technology can deliver at a price that's reasonable and demonstrates outstanding performance," Walter Baker, the association's administrator, told InternetNews.com. "It's not the end-all or be-all -- nothing's hit that level -- but if a enterprise needs speed and performance, it can be achieved at a good cost."

The news comes as RAM- and flash-based SSD are gaining prominence, but the high costs and low capacities compared to magnetic media have thus far limited uptake among enterprise buyers.

RAM-based solutions like Texas Memory's differ from flash-based offerings by nearly eliminating I/O wait time -- flash offers fast read rates but far slower write capability -- and application performance similar to hard disk RAID systems.

Solutions based on RAM are typically much more pricey than flash offerings, however, with prices at about $700 per gigabyte compared to a $150 range. Additionally, both types are dramatically more expensive than magnetic media.

The news also comes shortly after enterprise storage giant EMC began adding flash-based SSDs to its high-end Symmetrix DMX-4 systems -- a move lauded by industry experts as signaling to businesses that flash-based storage may be ready for prime time.

However, one industry analyst noted that many of today's enterprises are taxing limits in compute workloads and RAM-based SDD could prove to be the right solution for specific needs.

"This technology is still costly, much more expensive than smaller flash-based SSD options, but then again, the two approaches meet different needs," Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective Analysis, told . "The question is whether you need one big system, a powerful system like Texas Memory's, or can you get needed results in smaller, flash-based solutions that cost much less."

"What this [benchmark results] will do, however, is help make people much more aware of the performance you get with pure SSD," he added.

Not surprisingly, Texas Memory Systems is also proud of the record-setting performance.

"These results tell a few different stories," Woody Hutsell, executive vice president at Texas Memory Systems, told InternetNews.com. "One, it tells our customers we have the number-one component to use. It demonstrates our technology has the best performance of any storage company when it comes to benchmarks. So when organizations need to buy high-performance they know we offer the lowest-cost solution.

"It also pushes this technology further in adoption and improves the confidence factor," he added.

The company set the new record using standard white box servers with 4GB RamSan-400 SSDs. QLogic QLE2462 host bus adapters and SANbox 5600 fabric switches were the only SAN elements included in the benchmarking.

The results mark the second time Texas Memory has put its product through benchmark testing. The first effort, four years ago, also proved record-setting, Hutsell said.

"A few years have passed and we knew the product had improved and we wanted to take the record back," he said.