Top SSD Performance Comes at a Price

Texas Memory Systems (TMS) is debuting a RAM–solid state disk drive (SSD) today for enterprises able to say “price be damned” in exchange for intense performance, fast speed and high storage capacity.

Starting at $140,000 the RamSan-440 quadruples current available RAM-SSD capacity and can handle up to 600,000 inputs/outputs per second (IOPS), according to the vendor. The four-unit rack-mount chassis scales to 512 gigabytes of storage capacity.

The news comes as enterprises want greater power and capacity to handle increasing datacentric applications such as mission-critical databases.

“This kind of RAM-based SSD is at the top of the performance pyramid,” Jeff Janukowicz, an IDC analyst who covers solid state drives & HDD components, told

“It’s really about performance,” he said. “There are always applications that require higher-level performance and datacenters that are looking to increase the number of transactions,” he said.

The announcement is also another validation point for SSD technology, which is gaining prominence given advancements in flash-based SSD technologies.

Last July, an IDC report predicted SSDs were ready to hit the mainstream and that the technology’s performance and mobility-related requirements will push SSD revenues from $373 million in 2006 to $5.4 billion by 2011.

The new system is aimed at environments in which downtime or processing lags aren’t tolerated, according to experts.

“That’s where we expect TMS’ solution to be implemented as it allows organizations to increase performance and manage high transaction volumes and larger numbers of concurrent users,” explained Janukowicz, adding the product is attractive for several markets including financial, telecom, e-commerce and data warehousing.

The price for such capacity hasn’t thwarted adoption, as the product is already deployed among customers, according to Woody Hutsell, executive vice president for TMS.

“This represents a real breakthrough in the evolution of the RamSan-400 line and answers the challenge we were facing to provide greater capacity,” Hutsell told

“RAM-based systems have always been more expensive, and while this reflects a higher cost the customers are not concerned as it’s a needed technology for accelerating most important applications,” Hutsell explained.

Per-gigabyte costs with RAM solutions average about $700, while flash-based averages about $150 per gigabyte, according to experts.

The product also provides efficiencies as enterprises need less servers and also less power requirements, Janukowicz noted.

“That translates into lower cost and administration efforts,” the analyst said.

The RamSan-400, which can be hooked up to a SAN or deployed directly using Fibre Channel ports, uses RAID-protected Flash memory modules for backup of RAM-based data. It can back up or restore the entire 512GB of data in 6 minutes, according to the vendor, thanks to a new IO technology the vendor debuted earlier this year.

In June TMS debuted its Instant-On Input-Output (IO²) technology, which lets enterprises gain instant access to data from RAM-based SSDs once a unit is powered on. Prior to the innovation it could take up to two hours to access a half-terabyte of data from SSD memory.

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