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Enterprise All-Flash Storage Vendor List

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Improving data center performance with flash technology has become a common practice over the last few years, and also an expensive one. Flash storage is fast, but the speed comes at a price with flash usually costing more than ten times what you would pay for HDDs with the same capacity. Read: Can All-Flash Arrays Be Cost Effective?

As mentioned in our recent list of hybrid storage vendors, flash can be set up in on-board PCIe slots instead of the back-end. This allows you to get the fastest performance possible out of the technology by having it act as a sort of memory extension and is mostly found in flash controllers.

There is one thing that has stuck out to some as a possible drawback of flash storage and that is memory cell degradation. NAND flash storage cells can deteriorate over time as a result of constantly writing and removing data. Luckily, this is much less of a problem now than it was several years ago. With additions of wear-leveling and bad-block management software, among other things, flash storage has become much more resilient.

The number of flash storage vendors continues to rise, so it can be quite the undertaking searching for the right enterprise all-flash storage solution. Here is an alphabetical list of AFA vendors we think are worth looking at.

CacheIO FA140

The FA140 from CacheIO is a highly capable 2RU rack unit that supports up to 48 1TB drives. The boxes come with 18 8Gb Fibre Channel ports as well as five 56Gb FDR InfiniBand ports. All of this can support up to nine 4K data streams running at 140Gbps. The FA140 is a good choice for those with intense media needs.

Cisco Invicta

Cisco recently acquired storage vendor Whiptail and released its first flash product in February of this year. The UCS Invicta all-flash array flew under the radar for the most part. The Invicta C3124SA array has a max capacity of 24TB raw data in a 2U form factor and supports 10Gb Ethernet, 1Gb or 10Gb BASE-T and 8Gb Fibre Channel connections. While Cisco's offering may not look like much now, the Invicta line is something worth watching.

Coraid EtherDrive SRX

The EtherDrive SRX series is Coraid's high-end flash block storage offering. The Ethernet rack unit series is comprised of the SRX6200, a 2U unit with up to 24-drives supported, and the SRX6300, a 4U unit with up to 36-drive supported. The units support JBOD/RAID set ups of 0, 1, 6, 5 and 10 and getting the SRX series up and running is streamlined with auto logical unit number (LUN) discovery.

Dell SC Series

Dell's flash offering, the SC series, includes two storage array racks and a controller. The 2U array units, the SC200 and the SC220, support up to 12 3.5" SAS drives and 24 2.5" drive respectively. Dell’s controller, the SC8000, supports 4Gb, 8Gb and 16Gb Fibre Channel, 1Gb and 10Gb iSCSI, and 10Gb Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) front-end connections. For the backend, the SC8000 supports 3Gb and 6GB SAS, and 2Gb, 4Gb and 8Gb Fibre Channel connections.


The XtremIO X-Bricks from EMC come come in two variants, a 10TB max capacity unit and a 20TB unit. The rack units can be stacked to four units providing a possible total capacity of 80TB. What sets the X-Brick apart is its low overhead, meaning more usable storage space, coming in at around 18 percent. In short, this means more bang for your buck, which counts for a lot when it comes to flash storage.

Hitachi Accelerated Flash

Hitachi’s flash storage units are meant for intense workloads and fit into a large 8U chassis with a max capacity of 76.8TB per chassis. If being used in conjunction with Hitachi VSP, standing for virtual storage platform, you can take advantage of automated tiering functions. Another advantage of using Accelerated Flash with Hitachi VSP is the inline write compression capabilities for faster write operations.

HP 3PAR StoreServ

The 3PAR series from Dell can handle up to 220TB of raw storage capacity in the high-end 3PAR StoreServ 7450 4-Node Base. In a node pair, the unit can support up to 120 SSDs. In terms of connectivity, there are 8 8Gb Fibre Channel ports, as well as the option to add an additional 8 Fibre Channel ports or 10 10Gb iSCSI ports. The 3PAR series comes with a few features for maintaining data in the event of a hardware failure, such as redundant power supplies and fans, and cache persistence.

IBM FlashSystem

The FlashSystem family includes two units, the 720 and the 820. While there is a difference in max capacity, the 720 supports up to 10TB while the 820 supports 20TB, the two units also use different kinds of flash storage. The 720 utilizes single-level cell technology (SLC) while the 820 uses enterprise multi-level cell technology (eMLC), giving you a possible alternative to the usual MLC flash. Both units come with 4 8Gb Fibre Channel ports as well as 4 40Gb QDR InfiniBand ports.

Kaminario K2

The Kaminario K2 K-Blocks are rack units able to be scaled up to 5 units for a maximum capacity of 120TB. The units support up to 8 8Gb Fibre Channel connections or up to 8 10GbE iSCSI connections. The K-Blocks can retain a near constant performance level with non-disruptive code changes and hot-swappable components. In addition to failure safety features such as a data protection layer, the K-Block comes with a seven-year endurance warranty.

NetApp EF550

NetApp's EF550 storage array is a 2U rack can fit up to 120 SSDs for a maximum raw capacity of 192TB in a dual-controller configuration. A standout feature of the EF550 is the number and variety of connectivity ports available. The unit supports 8 16Gb Fibre Channel, 8 6Gb SAS, 8 10Gb iSCSI and 4 40Gb InfiniBand connections. NetApp also provides several flash cache solutions.

Nimbus Data Gemini All-Flash Array

The Gemini flash arrays from Nimbus Data has a max raw capacity of 48TB, which may seem a little low compared to other devices on this list. What it lacks in capacity it makes up for in performance with its Parallel Memory Architecture and Distributed Cache Architecture. Gemini arrays also come with a ten-year end-to-end warranty.

Pure Storage FlashArray

The FlashArray series includes two controllers, the FA-300 Series Controller and the FA-400 Series Controller, and two rack storage units, the Base Shelf and the Expansion Shelf. The raw storage rack units max out at 12TB raw storage on the Expansion Shelf. The FA-400 controller is the way to go if you have high-intensity workloads, with four possible connectivity configurations of 8Gb FC and 10Gb iSCSI for a total of 4-6 connections. FlashArray devices offer the benefit of little to no performance impact when upgrading as all upgrades are done online and there is an increased emphasis on redundancy.

Skyera skyHawk

The skyHawk 1U rack unit is capable of holding up to 44TB of raw data. For network connectivity the box has 40 1GbE ports and 3 10GbE ports. A standout feature of the skyHawk is the integration of multiprotocol storage systems that combine block and file storage access protocols. Skyera has also concentrated on lifespan with the skyHawk by minimizing electrical charge intensity traveling through flash storage cells.

SolidFire SF Series

SF family of all-flash arrays, the SF3010, SF6010 and SF9010, can all hold 10 SSDs but support different drive capacities, 300GB, 600GB and 960GB respectively. Each box supports 2 10Gb SFP+ iSCSI connections and can be stacked into groups of five up to a maximum size of 100 nodes. SolidFire provides a 24/7 remote monitoring service for real-time storage network health reports. The SolidFire service does not include any entry-level positions on their support team.

Violin Memory 6000 Series

Violin Memory's all-flash array family is capable of up to 70TB raw capacity (44TB usable) and includes multiple network connectivity port options: 8 4Gb/8Gb Fibre Channel, 8 10Gb iSCSI, 8 40Gb QDR InfiniBand and 4 PCIe Gen2 x8 ports. Components are hot-swappable and all software updates can be carried out with little performance impact. The rack units are a 3U form factor, which is small when considering the amount of storage possible.

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