Flash Storage Technology

Enterprise Flash Storage Solutions for Business

We provide Enterprise Flash Storage Arrays based upon your requirement and this is dependant on a number of factors including the application which can be OLTP, Databases, Virtualisation for Server or Desktop, VOD, VDI, VR, 3D modelling, IOPS and size of flash storage needed. In order to achieve the performance enterprise flash storage provides we also need to look at potential bottlenecks in the network in order to maximise the performance and alleviate any unforeseen issues. By deploying an Enterprise Flash Storage Array you will typically see a 10x or more performance increase in your system environment which in turn leads to increased productivity. Although the cost of Flash Storage is coming down the cost per Terabyte is still 3-4x that of a comparable disk storage solution.

  • Fujitsu ETERNUS AF250 S2
  • Fujitsu AF650 S2 All Flash Storage
  • Kaminario K2 All Flash Storage
  • NetApp Solidfire All Flash

Flash Storage Considerations

When looking at a flash storage investment it isn't all about performance, there are many other things to consider:

  1. What type of flash storage is being used - SSD, NVMe, TLC, SLC etc
  2. How many IOPS do you require for each application using flash storage
  3. Do you need to replicate your flash storage to a DR site
  4. Do you need active-active controllers or active-active flash storage arrays
  5. Do you need to scale for capacity, performance or both
  6. What warranty guarantees are provided

There are different types of flash storage arrays

All Flash Storage - The whole storage array is comprised of Flash

Hybrid Flash - This uses a combination of Flash & Spinning Disk

PCIe Flash - The Flash memory resides on a plugin PCIe card for your server or workstation

Flash Cache - A few SSD or NVMe drives are used as a cache for spinning disk

Hybrid Drives - These are disk drives with a portion of flash which holds the most recently accessed files

Types of flash

Most of today's storage arrays use Non-volatile NAND flash memory which is supplied as SSD drives. There are three types of NAND and these are single-level cell (SLC), multi-level cell (MLC) or triple-level cell (TLC) technology. SLC stores one-bit-per cell, has longer endurance, but is significantly more costly to produce with higher capacities. MLC uses two bits per cell and TLC uses three bits per cell. These flash technologies have lower endurance, but hold larger capacities and can be produced at lower costs.

Flash Wear Levelling

Flash stores data by use an electrical current to etch into Silicon a data bit and this causes Wear Levelling, whereby after so many programme erase / write cycles the Flash wears out and this could be 10,000, 100,00 or 1,000,000 writes depending on the type of Flash Storage used. Manufacturers overcome this problem in a number of ways by using sophisticated algorithms to work out how many times each cell has been used and then automatically re-map those blocks to another portion of Flash Storage.

There are three types of Wear Levelling:

No Wear Levelling - Nothing is done with the cells and it wears out

Dynamic Wear Levelling - Data is written evenly across the whole of the Flash

Static Wear Levelling - Works out how many times a cell has been written and dynamically moves it.

If you want to know more about Flash Wear, please visit this site http://www.radio-electronics.com/info/data/semicond/memory/flash-wear-reliability-lifetime.php

The most common type of Enterprise Flash Storage uses SSD NAND today is MLC and this provides a high capacity and a far lower cost point than SLC. Whilst this does not have the highest Write Cycle the more sophisticated Enterprise Flash Storage vendors take this into consideration and employ Static Wear Levelling to ensure the maximum data lifecycle is attained and reliability remains intact.

Flash Storage Performance

Enterprise Flash Storage performance is a key criteria for replacing spinning disks, typically the fastest SSD drives can read/write at over 500MB/s with an IOP figure of 80,000. This is far better than spinning disk as Flash has no moving parts, whereas a disk drive needs to move an actuator arm with a read/write head across a spinning disk platter. Many of the applications which run today require Enterprise Flash Storage to deliver the high I/O required by businesses in order to save time and display the results instantaneously.

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