Texas Memory hits 1 million IOPS with ultra-fast flash storage

U.S. customer deploys flash-based SSD with 20TB, 1 million IOPS

Texas Memory Systems has broken the 1 million input/output operations per second barrier with a flash storage system deployed by a U.S. customer.

Texas Memory Systems has broken the 1 million input/output operations per second barrier with a flash storage system deployed by a U.S. customer, the company announced Tuesday.

Texas Memory's RamSan-5000 is the first flash memory-based solid state disk system that can process 1 million IOPS, the vendor said.

IBM boasted in August that it cracked the 1 million IOPS barrier in research known as Project Quicksilver, but IBM did not say when its 1 million IOPS technology would be available for sale. (Compare storage products.)

Texas Memory's flash, already on the market, can scale up to several million IOPS, either by installing a Turbo feature that costs extra or by simply increasing capacity, says Woody Hutsell, executive vice president of the company. But last month was the first time a customer deployed a flash system delivering 1 million IOPS, Hutsell said.

The 5000 deployment combines 10 RamSan-500 arrays, each of which delivers 100,000 IOPS. A customer could combine 20 such arrays for 2 million IOPS, Hutsell notes.

Texas Memory has been selling solid-state disks for about 30 years, specializing in RAM-based drives. Texas Memory began selling flash-based storage this year in response to market trends driven by adoption of flash by consumers and EMC's decision to sell flash to corporate IT departments.

A 1 million IOPS, RamSan-5000 with 20TB of RAID-protected flash memory would cost roughly $1.5 million, Hutsell says. A RAM-based solid state system that delivers more than 1 million IOPS would cost about $400,000 but include just 1TB of storage.

Hutsell said he can't reveal which customer deployed the 20TB, 1 million IOPS flash system, but his company says it would be useful for accelerating the most critical applications used by large enterprise, government, military and research organizations.

Working with either Fibre Channel or InfiniBand interfaces, and with a RAM cache of 640GB, the system reaches 1 million random read IOPS with response times of less than 1 millisecond.

"The unique combination of RAM cache to accelerate writes and flash memory to accelerate reads results in a system that is optimally balanced for critical enterprise, research and government applications, such as large [online transaction processing] systems or data warehouses, video on demand, data rendering, geospatial analysis, seismic processing and data acquisition," Texas Memory states.

Flash memory has gained attention among enterprise IT executives because of its fast performance and energy efficiency. When Sun Microsystems launched plans to embed flash into servers this year, storage chief John Fowler said that flash consumes one-fifth the power of rotating disk drives and is a hundred times faster.

The Ram-San-5000 requires 3,000 watts of power and occupies 40U of rack space.

"Deploying a hard disk-based system with similar performance would require 5,000 hard disk drives, consume over 90,000 watts of power and require at least five racks," Texas Memory said.

Learn more about this topic

IBM flash memory breaks 1 million IOPS barrier08/28/08Flash storage gets enterprise attention as prices decline06/25/08Sun to embed flash storage in nearly all its servers06/04/08
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