All-flash storage has become increasingly popular in data centers as a means of much faster data access than traditional hard disk, but its growth has been impeded by cost and storage density. There was too much of the former and too little of the latter.\nEvery memory, storage and server vendor is working full out to address that issue, and it has turned into quite an arms race, which benefits the customer. So much so that Gartner predicts that within the next 12 months, solid-state arrays will improve in performance by a factor of 10 while doubling in density and cost-effectiveness.\n\nIBM has just made its contribution to that growth. It has announced advances in flash storage that it claims will provide a three-fold increase in density in the same physical space for its FlashSystem 900 flash arrays, while reducing data capacity costs by 60 percent.\nIBM used Micron\u2019s newest 3D stacking memory to achieve this density. A few years back, NAND flash memory hit a wall at around 16nm, where it became impossible to shrink the memory cells any smaller. That stopped the growth of memory density and thus capacity when they couldn\u2019t squeeze any more bits into the same space.\nThe solution that flash memory makers like Micron came up with was to stack the layers of flash memory on top of each other like pancakes. If they couldn\u2019t scale out, they could scale up. Very quickly they expanded from 32 layers to 48 layers to 64 layers, and Western Digital is talking about 96-layer NAND flash sometime in the near future.\nWith the stacking comes increased capacity again. That\u2019s how IBM is able to get three times the storage capacity in the same space. The current FlashSystem 900 on the market \u2013 which has been on the market since April of last year, so it was due for an upgrade \u2013 has 60TB of capacity. Now it has a max capacity of 180TB.\nIBM\u2019s secret sauce\nIt\u2019s the same trick everyone uses, since Micron has many partners, but IBM has its own secret sauce, as well. It uses hardware compression with a custom FPGA, so the array doesn\u2019t need to talk to the CPU to perform the compression. It\u2019s all done in the flash array itself. This allows for much faster speed. IBM also claims there is no single point of failure in the array for always-on performance.\nNew IBM virtualization software\nAt the same time, IBM also introduced new virtualization software called Spectrum Virtualize, which is designed to ease the migration of data to and from its public cloud services \u2014 for simple data migrations, as well as for disaster recovery of data.\u00a0\u00a0\nFinally, new software enables IBM and non-IBM storage to be used with the Docker and Kubernetes containers environments, and new cloud-based software integrates storage with artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide constant diagnostics to help optimize the performance, capacity and health of clients\u2019 storage infrastructure.\u00a0\nIBM said the new all-flash systems and new software would be available by the end of the year.