5 Enterprise All-Flash Storage Arrays

EMC XtremIO  Dramatically improve IT operational efficiency, transform application workflows with integrated copy data management and deliver consistent high performance with Dell EMC XtremIO, powered by Intel® Xeon® processors.

The EMC XtremIO product line is targeted at high-performance database and analytics, virtual desktop infrastructure and virtual server environments. EMC claims its architecture eliminates setup and tuning steps and cannot be misconfigured in part because all volumes can be accessed through all ports on the storage cluster all the time. The scaling clusters, called X-Bricks, can be added or eliminated to scale the storage environment up or down just like building blocks. Each X-Brick includes two controllers, one disk array enclosure and two X-Brick systems or one system and a battery backup unit.

While clusters can be based on any number of X-Bricks, an 8 X-Brick cluster would include 16 controllers with a raw capacity of 80TB; 20TB X-Bricks are due later this year. The company uses the same vertical rack for a single X-Brick as does for a fully populated 8-brick cluster, so once a customer buys a single array they are able to expand the systems to 8 X-Bricks without a further chassis purchases. A single X-Brick has a maximum performance rating of 250,000 IOPS, but that drops to 150,000 IOPS when performance is tested at 50 percent reads and writes, the company says. In the 8-brick configuration, those numbers jump to 2 million and 1.2 million IOPS, respectively.

XtremIO uses shared in-memory metadata that allows the system to reach a range of performance to meet application requirements and to clone data already in the array for deploying virtual machines.

Hitachi Unified Storage VM Hitachi’s Unified Storage family is offered in five configurations, but the VM family is most similar to the other systems in this roundup.  The Hitachi Accelerated Flash (HAF) approach delivers up to 1 million IOPS using multilevel cell flash (MCL), which creates a flash memory drive 3 to 4 times larger than a traditional solid-state drive. The larger drives provide up to four times more IOPS performance and are more space and energy efficient than SSDs, the company says.

Hitachi’s purpose-built controller supports up to 3.2TB of flash compared to controllers for traditional SSDs that top out at 800 GB. The company says this four-fold increase in capacity per controller significantly reduces storage costs.

Hitachi says its all-flash array can reduce the time required to administer storage and provide storage service levels. Like the competitive products in the market, the company provides a variety of disaster recovery and backup capabilities required for enterprise environments.

IBM FlashSystem 840 IBM FlashSystem 840 provides extreme performance, flexible capacity and total system protection for the most demanding applications.

IBM FlashSystem™ 840 is data center-optimized to strategically harness the value of stored data. By providing extreme performance for the most demanding applications, including online-transaction processing and analytics databases, virtual desktop infrastructures, technical-computing applications, and cloud environments, FlashSystem 840 delivers a com-petitive advantage for today’s organizations. The IBM system reduces response times with MicroLatency—that is, less than 135-microsecond access times. It is this consistent low latency that enables FlashSystem to deliver application performance improvements.

IBM’s approach to enterprise-class flash arrays is to limit the number of software layers that impede flash’s greatest value-add: speed. The IBM FlashSystem uses proprietary flash controllers, firmware and software; the company says it does not use any commodity SSDs, PCIe cards or other “significant non-IBM assemblies” in its arrays.

IBM says its flash arrays can either augment existing rotating disk arrays or simply replace them, dramatically increasing application response time and reducing I/O delays for critical applications. The addition of flash arrays can reduce the amount of RAM required per server and eliminate application turning, the company says. The flash arrays also allow users to deploy fewer servers with fewer processors due to the increased speed of flash storage.

The FlashSystem 840 is available in seven configurations and tops out at a capacity of 60 TB and 12 flash modules. Encryption of the data in the array is optional but system data and metadata are not encrypted. It is specified to perform up to 775,000 random read/write IOPS, with a maximum read speed of 8 GB/s and write speed of 4 GB/s. The IBM system supports module-level variable-stripe RAID and system-level RAID 5.

NetApp EF550 Flash Array Fast, consistent response to your most demanding enterprise applications

  • The NetApp EF550 is an all-SSD storage system designed specifically for latency-sensitive business applications demanding the highest levels of performance, reliability, and availability.
  • Extreme Performance Over 500,000 IOPS and submillisecond latency let you finish business operations more quickly and improve the customer experience.
  • Maximum Efficiency Overprovisioning is eliminated and costs are dramatically reduced by cutting space utilization, power, and cooling by up to 95%.
  • High Availability Fully redundant system with automated failover and advanced monitoring maximizes uptime.
  • Modular Scalability Support for up to 192TB of raw capacity provides more of your data access to low-latency performance.
  • Enterprise-Proven Platform Leveraging expertise gained from nearly one million NetApp® SANtricity®-powered systems, the flash-optimized EF550 is designed to work in the most demanding environments.
  • The NetApp EF550 supports up to 120 solid-state drives with a raw capacity of 96TB. It also sports 24GB of RAM and runs the SANtricity 11.10 operating system. The enterprise-class system offers such highly-available features such as redundant, hot-swappable SSDs, controllers, power supplies and fans;  automatic drive failover, detection and rebuild using global hot-spare drives, and mirrored data cache with battery backup and destage to memory.

    The NetApp array boasts more than 400,000 IOPS and submillisecond latency, with throughput maxing out at 12Gbps.  The company says the high-speed response time will speed up latency-sensitive applications, such as web services and databases. Among the standard features for the product family is the NetApp storage management software, which including snapshot backup-and-recovery capabilities, diagnostic and proactive repair, and a variety of storage tuning capabilities.

     Among the architectural updates to the E-Series arrays is Dynamic Disk Pools (DDP), a design that minimizes the impact of a drive failure and returns the system to full performance faster than traditional RAID technology. The system also offers Asynchronous and Synchronous Remote Replication, a technology that protects enterprise-class business-critical workloads.

    Pure Storage FlashArray FA-420 The PureStorage FlashArray FA-420 is more similar to the NetApp array than to the IBM system in that it is specified to max out at 120 TB of effective capacity with up to 400,000 IOPS and submillisecond average latency. It is powered by dual Intel 8-core “Sandy Bridge” processors and 192 GB of RAM for working cache.

    The FlashArray offers stateless, independent controllers that can be upgraded or swapped out without requiring the array to be powered down. The system software is designed to write to all of the flash on a regular basis so that one section of the flash does not wear out from multiple rewrites faster than other portions of the memory. The software also seis capable of identifying the so-called I/O fingerprint of the memory so that the IT manager can mix various generations of flash in the same array.

    The company’s third-generation Purity operating system is based on the company’s FlashCare technology, which virtualizes the underlying SSDs into a unified pool of eMLC flash storage. On top of Flashcare sits its inline data reduction technology including thin provisioning and global deduplication, along with its reliability and performance capabilities. These include snapshot, encryption, I/O scheduling and non-blocking read/write architecture. Purity also includes multiprotocol connectivity, management and cloud-based support.


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