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EMC execs: We'll drive SSD cost down 'as fast as we can'

EMC's SSD drives have a 30:1 performance advantage over their fastest spinning disk

May 22, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - LAS VEGAS -- EMC Corp. plans to play a big role in forcing the price of solid-state disk (SSD) drives down as it deploys the technology throughout its family of enterprise-class disk storage arrays.

At the EMC World conference this week, both EMC CEO Joe Tucci and Dave Donatelli, EMC's executive vice president of storage platforms operations, emphasized the importance that faster SSD drive technology will play at the highest level of enterprise-class primary storage and that SSDs will be on price parity with the highest performance Fibre Channel drives the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011. "Over the next two years, all [data] recovery will come off disk ... not tape," Tucci said. "Tape is too slow."

EMC announced support for SSD drives in its enterprise-class DMX array in January (see "EMC offers solid-state disk in Symmetrix").

"The market for flash is coming down significantly faster than rotating drives right now," Donatelli said. "Our stated corporate goal is we're trying to drive it down as fast as we can." (see "New hybrid drives promise faster Vista laptops, PCs, servers)

One reason Donatelli believes EMC customers will embrace SSD over spinning disk is that currently there are "tons of customers" buying the most expensive 15K Fibre Channel drives for their arrays, but they're not fully utilizing the drive capacity because as their applications increase IOPS to a disk drive, the response time goes up "to a point that it is unacceptable for their applications."

So, Donatelli said, the work-around for EMC customers is to purchase more drives and put less data on them in order to spread the I/Os out and drive up response time -- a very costly fix.

Donatelli said "the beauty of flash" in EMC's arrays is that it has 30 times the IOPS compared to its best Fibre Channel drives. EMC is currently using drives that it developed in conjunction with STEC Inc.

STEC is currently facing a patent-infringement lawsuit from Seagate Technology LLC over its SSD drives (see "Seagate suit against STEC could raise SSD prices").

Asked about the lawsuit, Donatelli said EMC will also open itself up to using other manufacturers' SSDs such as Intel-Micron and Samsung.

Donatelli shows off the solid state disk drives EMC is using in its enterprise-class disk subsystems
EMC's Dave Donatelli
"First of all, the lawsuit has no bearing on it," Donatelli said. "And, our corporate strategy for years has been to be a multisource. And we'll have the same strategy in this space."

K.J. Burke, a systems engineer at Barrick Gold Corp., a gold mining operation in Toronto, said above other technology mentioned during conference keynote speeches was Tucci's intention to use more SSDs. Oftentimes, Barrick's servers and disk arrays are located near or on mine sites, such as Peru, Chile and Tanzania.

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