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Flash drives making impact on enterprise storage says EMC

Flash to take growing share of enterprise storage market

EMC is predicting that flash hard drives will take up a much greater share of the enterprise storage market in the next few years.

Speaking at the opening of EMC World 2008 in Las Vegas, Joe Tucci, chairman, president and CEO of EMC commented: "One thing changing the storage industry today more than anything else is the advent of flash technology. The promise of the technology is that it is very green and it is very cost effective."

The company already introduced high end flash drives for its DMX storage arrays in March, but it expects to see much greater penetration of flash drives as prices come down.

According to David Donatelli, executive vice president Storage Product Operations for EMC, flash drives are already showing massive performance improvements over regular high-end HDD. For the DMX system, the flash drives supplied by EMC have registered I/O speeds that are 30 times faster than standards hard drives, and response times of 1 millisecond or less, compared to 6 ms for a rotating drive.

The flash drives also use 38% less power, and are expected to have a much longer life as the don't have any moving parts. Flash is also more efficient in that a drive provides the same performance even when it is near capacity, while rotating hard drives show a deterioration in performance as the become more full.

Donatelli said: "By 2010, we expect to see flash at [price] parity with the highest speed of rotating drives. We don't make the chips, so we don't control the price, but we are trying to drive the price down, and over the next couple of years, we expect to see flash fairly broadly implemented."

EMC has worked for two years to ensure full compatibility between its hardware and flash, and also to ensure that flash drives are capable of the same levels of quality and data integrity as normal HDD. EMC is supplying single layer cell (SLC) hard drives, compared to the more common multiple layer cell (MLC) drives that are in use for notebooks.

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