Flash is costly and will never achieve price parity with HDD: Infinidat CEO

Flash storage is over-rated. Well, if not over-rated, then certainly more costly than many would have us believe and price parity with spinning disk is a very, very long way off.

Those are the views of storage industry veteran (billed as Mr Symmetrix in the PR puff) and Infinidat CEO Moshe Yanai.

“The main problem with flash is the cost,” said Yanai this week. “Even now, Seagate has introduced a 16TB flash drive, but it costs $8,000 to $9,000. You can get the same capacity spinning disk drives for 1/50th of the price.

He added: “Flash is coming down in price but so are HDDs. If people need to keep more data, to do it with flash would make them bankrupt.”

According to Yanai the claims made by flash vendors are spurious and don’t compare meaningfully between product categories.

He said: “People who sell flash say it’s cheaper but they compare it to the cost of 15,000rpm spinning disk when a system based on 7,200rpm HDDs costs 10 times less than 15k.”

“There is no price crossing point coming, not in the next 10 or 20 years; ask people who product disk and flash!”

Just so we have the full disclosure bit, though, Yanai’s Infinidat F-series storage arrays scale to petabytes and are based on very large numbers of nearline-SAS spinning disk with triple controllers, relatively big memory modules and flash for working datasets.

The secret sauce in the Infinidat software allows rapid access to data via striping of small data blocks (64kb) across all drives in an array’s enclosures.

That means, said Yanai, that if the array needed to go to spinning disk for data you could have all 480 HDD drive actuators working at once to seek and read data (assuming that’s how many drives you had fitted). Meanwhile, data writes are held in memory and written sequentially so as not to get in the way of reads.