EMC unveils all-SSD array, one app to manage all flash

Releases software to manage flash across the data center

EMC today released its first, purpose-built, all-solid state drive (SSD) array that is based on its XtremIO acquisition last year, as well as new software that identifies server flash throughout a data center and allows it to be managed under one interface.

Additionally, EMC has released six new PCIe flash cards for use in data center servers.

XtremeIO all-SSD array

Referred to as "Project X" prior to its release today, EMC's all-SSD XtremIO Array is based on a clustered architecture, allowing multiple SSD modules to be added, increasing performance and capacity linearly, said Josh Goldstein, vice president of marketing and product management for EMC's XtremIO unit.

Unlike EMC's current all-flash appliances, which are filled with PCIe cards (i.e., Project Thunder), the new XtremIO Array uses serial ATA (SATA) SSDs, which come in a 2.5-in. hard-drive form factor. None of the hardware is proprietary, Goldstein said, allowing EMC to keep data center integration capabilities higher. The SATA SSDs, like SAS SSDs, are dual-ported for resiliency.

Using random 4KB blocks, a single XtremIO Array node can achieve 250,000 read- and 100,000 write-IOPS, Goldstein said.

XtremIO
EMC's XtremIO all-SSD array

"We precondition the arrays before we recorded the performance numbers," Goldstein said. "We fill the array nearly to capacity with data to simulate a flash system that you're already overwriting with data. This is a much more stringent test the new arrays will undergo."

Along with high performance, the XtremIO array comes native with automated thin provisioning capabilities, which means volume sizes can automatically expand as an application may need. The thin provisioning is also granular in that volumes can expand in 4KB blocks to ensure thrifty use of flash capacity, Goldstein said.

The array comes with inline data deduplication, which means an algorithm checks to ensure data sets being stored to the array are not the same as content already there. "The only thing being written to flash on the XtremIO system are unique I/O blocks," Goldstein said.

For data protection, XtremIO has a proprietary algorithm that is similar to RAID 6 (capable of protecting data with up to two flash card failures), but with the performance of RAID 1, Goldstein said.

The XtremIO array is built on a scale-out architecture not dissimilar to EMC's Isilon scale-out NAS array.

The new arrays are being marketed for use with applications requiring extremely high levels of random I/O performance, such as OLTP databases, server virtualization and VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure).

The SSD array offers sub-millisecond latency, fully random transaction patterns with all data services enabled and operating while filled nearly to capacity.

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