SanDisk, best known among consumers for those easily lost microSD flash storage cards the size of a thumbnail, has developed a storage platform at the other end of the scale, dubbed "InfiniFlash." The company said it expects its system "will drive flash into big-data workloads at massive scale."
In announcing the innovation Monday, SanDisk proudly noted that its new all-flash storage system earned its own unique category name from industry analyst firm IDC: "Big Data Flash."
"By offering InfiniFlash below $2/GB before compression and de-duplication, we are changing the industry dynamics in favor of dramatically broader flash adoption in new hyperscale and enterprise workloads," said Sumit Sadana, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at SanDisk.
Faster Speeds, Lower Costs
The InfiniFlash system, which SanDisk says is immediately available, offers two advantages of undoubted interest to corporate management and IT departments: much faster speeds and lower power consumption.
Using as many as 64 hot-swappable flash cards, each with a capacity of up to 8 TB, the InfiniFlash system offers a total 512 TB of storage. SanDisk promises sustained 780K IOPS (input/output operations per second).
Some comparisons for scale may be useful. A single terabyte of storage, for instance, can hold approximately 310,000 photographs or up to 500 hours of movies. And in terms of data transfer, the spiffy 7,200-RPM hard drive in your PC offers a laggardly 75-100K IOPS.
Because flash storage has no moving parts, it requires much less energy to function. SanDisk estimates that the InfiniFlash system will use up to 80 percent less energy than comparable hard drive-based storage.
Flash Storage at Pennies per GB
Much like the solar power industry, flash storage manufacturers have long struggled to find the right balance between performance and cost to make large-scale installations worthwhile. Eric Burgener, research director of IDC's Storage Practice, believes SanDisk has achieved that goal by backing away from the bleeding edge of flash storage technology.
"The creation of the new storage category of Big Data Flash will be a welcome development for third-platform computing customers that are struggling to meet the requirements of hyperscale environments with legacy HDD technologies," Burgener said. "Big Data Flash solutions consistently deliver sub-millisecond latencies, scale to hundreds of PBs [petabytes], exhibit enterprise-class reliability, availability, and serviceability, and bring the secondary economic benefits of flash deployment at scale to big-data applications -- all at a $/GB price point comparable to that of 15K RPM HDD systems."
What SanDisk has done, Burgener said, is relax the performance so it can get to a lower price point.
"InfiniFlash is not nearly as fast as conventional flash, but hyperscalers don't need it to be," he said. "And they certainly can benefit from the power savings, the floor space and the better performance than they would get from HDDs."
SanDisk is targeting online services with identified needs for large storage and fast data access. Specific use cases include companies engaged in big-data analytics, content libraries such as social media sites, and media streaming operations.