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Pure adds Optane and QLC flash to boost performance and capacity

Flash storage player adds Intel Optane modules performance, a capacity flash range based on QLC drives, plus rebranding and GA of its on-premise/cloud leasing service

Pure Storage has added Intel Optane-based modules for high-end flash storage performance, launched a capacity-focused array range that will exploit QLC flash, and launched Pure as-a-Service with on-premise and cloud options available.

These developments reflect the adoption of leading-edge storage technologies at the high-performance and capacity ends of flash storage. They aim to meet the needs of customers that want to boost performance on flash arrays as well as to adopt flash storage throughout the datacentre.

The addition of Direct Memory Modules is based on the falling cost of Intel Optane, which is based on the company’s 3D Xpoint solid state technology, as well as the incorporation of enterprise features such as dual ports, said Pure CTO Alex McMullan.

Pure’s 750GB Direct Memory Modules will allow customers to install four or eight Optane drives into its high-end FlashArray//X70 and X90 arrays and up. Connectivity is via standard U.2 connectors, which are those employed in existing hard-drive technology.

Customers will be able to use Pure’s existing telemetry solution, Pure1, to determine whether adding Direct Memory Modules will benefit their workloads.

Pure’s tracking of QLC (quad-level cell) flash technology sees its introduction of the new FlashArray//C range, which aims to bring flash storage as a capacity medium where previously it has been mainly seen as a performance option.

QLC packs more cells into flash chips than existing (MLC, TLC, etc) and so offers much higher capacity in the same space. But the potential density of operations in such a small space means wear is much greater than in current flash generations. That means QLC is more suited to storing data that will be written once without much in the way of subsequent change.

Pure expects latency of around 4ms or 5ms in 18TB drives. That will give FlashArray//C arrays a capacity of 366TB in 3U with one or expansion shelves of 512TB each pushing capacity beyond 1PB. NVRAM will provide a cache to “combat spikiness”, said McMullan.

McMullan said the move into QLC reflects a move away from “archive” or “cold storage” of data to a world where “organisations are using most of it” for analytics, for example.

“It makes it affordable to hold all data on a flash performance level that is better than hybrid flash or disk-based storage,” he said.

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Pure will not equip FlashArray//C with QLC drives until next year, however. For now, it will use TLC drives operating at the same performance levels.

Finally, the company has rebranded its Pure Evergreen offering as Pure as-a-Service.

This allows customers to lease Pure Storage capacity on-premise (theirs or a colo location) or in the cloud. Customers can also configure and change on-the-fly the split between on-prem and cloud locations. As part of this comes the GA of Pure capacity in the AWS cloud.

Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform will follow, but McMullan could not specify when.

He said the drivers for Pure as-a-Service are containerised applications, web-native apps and edge computing, all of which require storage that can be rapidly spun up and/or scaled to meet sudden increases in demand.

McMullan said the launches were the result of Pure successfully “riding the innovation curve of materials science” to provide additions to its product offering that bring lower latency at one end and capacity flash at the other.

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