HP's Storage Flash-Forward

by Paul Shread

HP looks ahead, becoming the latest company to throw its weight behind solid state storage technology.

HP will soon join the list of companies offering flash-based solid state storage technology, joining the likes of EMC, IBMand Sun.

Jieming Zhu, distinguished technologist at HP StorageWorks, said HP will announce plans for SSDs in its storage arrays "soon," but he offered no timetable for the announcement.

While SSDs cost as much as 10 times more than hard disk drives, they deliver much greater performance for essential applications, along with energy savings and a rugged build, and prices are dropping rapidly, said Jieming. Despite all the advancements in HDD technology, "latency hasn't improved all that much," he said.

SSDs "will have a profound impact on the architecture eventually," Jieming said.

That said, NAND flash technology has its limitations, Jieming noted. While it's not much of an issue in consumer devices, the limited number of writes requires a new layer of software and wear leveling for enterprise use, which adds another layer of complexity.

While NAND has its limitations, including density, Jieming expects it to continue to evolve and be the flash technology of choice for some time to come. "Memory technology takes a long time to evolve," he said.

Eventually he sees other non-volatile RAM (NVRAM) technologies evolving to replace NAND, including phase-change RAM, spin torque RAM and HP's own memristor technology.

"For the time being, NAND will be adequate and will continue to evolve, but beyond 30 nm technology, we need to look for an alternative," he said.

Flash technology will also eventually require operating system-level changes in areas such as file systems and memory management, but "the OS guys are looking into that," he said.

Even Intel is getting into solid state technology, announcing enterprise-class drives just last week.

This article was originally published on Enterprise Storage Forum.

This article was originally published on Friday Oct 24th 2008
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