IT companies everywhere want higher-capacity flash storage for less money, and now Dell wants to help them reach that goal. Dell recently announced what it calls the first all-flash storage array to feature TLC 3D NAND technology, which the company said reduces the cost of all-flash storage to all-time low levels.
The drives based on 3D NAND flash technology will be incorporated into Dell’s SC Series of enterprise storage arrays. Dell's goal is to make data-center flash storage no more expensive than the fastest 15,000-rpm hard drives -- while providing 24 times performance improvement, up to six times the density, lower latency and lower power consumption. The solid-state drives are based on Samsung’s triple-level cell flash technology, a combination of new and old that provides a lower flash-for-performance price.
An enterprise-level Dell Storage SC4020 all-flash system can cost as little as $1.66 per raw gigabyte of capacity, and as little as 58 cents per gigabyte for typical hybrid flash configurations.
Cost Going Down
The company’s data placement strategy allows different types of flash storage to be efficiently deployed in multiple tier architectures at a cheaper rate than single-tier flash-based arrays, according to Eric Burgener, research director, storage systems at IDC.
Deploying flash drives built on TLC 3D NAND technology means Dell is setting the pace in storage density at 45 TB per rack unit for flash-based arrays, while reducing the cost per gigabyte of enterprise flash storage while improving performance, according to Burgener.
We reached out to Tim Stammers, senior analyst at 451 Research, who told us the new offerings from Dell make sense considering the the way in which manufacturing evolves. "The price of flash storage will keep going down as the process of making chips keeps getting refined," he said.
TLC Is Spreading
Dell’s presence in flash adoption has grown recently. Revenue from all-flash and hybrid-flash products in its SC Series grew 89 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same quarter last year. Also, a survey of 580 global IT leaders by SSG-NOW found that Dell is the top vendor of choice in enterprise flash and SSD deployment, Dell noted.
The company credits its Data Progression intelligent data placement technology and Storage Center 6.6 array software for enabling SC Series arrays to adopt and optimize new Mainstream RI (Read-Intensive) flash drives based on TLC 3D NAND. The company’s full line of Storage SC8000, SC4020 and SCv2000 Series now come with hybrid flash or all-flash array configurations.
The new drives are available in capacities up to 3.8 terabytes. The Dell Storage SC4020 (pictured) can provide a complete 90TB array in only 2U of rack space, according to the company.
The Dell Storage SC Series arrays will begin supporting Mainstream Read-Intensive flash drives, based on TLC 3D NAND technology starting next month.
"TLC flash is now finding its way into the data center," said Stammers. "Its use might not as widespread as that of MLC (multi-level cell), but other providers will follow now that Dell is doing it."