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HDS adds accelerated MLC flash module to its VSP enterprise SAN

HDS unveils Hitachi Accelerated Flash controller and drive enclosures for VSP arrays, claiming 1m IOPS from standard MLC flash drives

Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has announced the availability of the Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage module for its enterprise SAN Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) systems.

Hitachi Accelerated Flash storage module is the first hardware product in an HDS flash roadmap, announced in August, that will add flash in the storage array, at the server and via appliances.

The new flash module comprises a hardware controller and up to 8U of rack space that can scale flash drive capacity from 6.4TB to 76.8TB. It uses Multi-Level Cell (MLC) flash storage and is built around controller software first released as a VSP firmware upgrade in August.

MLC flash packs a greater density of data than high-end Single Level Cell (SLC) flash and is cheaper, but performs less well and for a shorter life. That is mainly due to its characteristic of writing multiple bits to the same cell, compared to SLC’s single bit per cell; each write takes its toll on the drive’s expected lifespan.

However, storage suppliers have made efforts to improve the performance and durability of MLC flash by techniques such as wear leveling. The HDS Accelerated Flash controller uses such techniques as well as compressing data to achieve higher storage densities.

HDS claims to deliver more than 1m input/output operations per second (IOPS) via the Accelerated Flash controller, provide double the data density of the largest MLC SSD currently available, four times better performance and up to 46% lower cost per bit.

Up to four flash enclosures can be housed in Hitachi VSP, to provide more than 300TB of flash per system. The flash module is aimed at use cases including online transaction processing (OLTP) databases, enterprise resource planning (ERP), financial data management, metadata and indexing.

Hitachi Accelerated Flash can form a tier of storage in VSP that is managed by Hitachi Dynamic Tiering (HDT) to move hot data to the most performant drives and less-used data to cheaper disks.

Roberto Basilio, vice-president, Infrastructure Platforms Product Management, Hitachi Data Systems, said: “Because of the innovative multi-core flash controller technology from Hitachi, we are able to use MLC flash in enterprise applications by extending MLC endurance and exceeding the performance of SLC flash. The result is the lowest cost per bit of any enterprise MLC flash solution on the market today.”

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