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Pure adds flagship FlashArray//XL with doubled throughput

High-end enterprise-targeted FlashArray//XL leverages latest Intel Ice Lake CPU, PCIe 4.0 and distributes SLC flash across drive modules to double throughput over existing arrays

Pure Storage has launched a flagship SAN storage array in its high-performance primary storage FlashArray family. The FlashArray//XL series boosts potential maximum capacity up to 5.5PB – nearly double existing FlashArray models – and also provides a throughput increase of nearly 2x.

Key to the performance increase is the adoption of Intel Ice Lake central processing units (CPUs) and use of PCIe 4.0. These advances provide for much-improved processing speeds with more cores, plus more PCIe lanes useable. This amounts to a throughput increase of roughly double existing FlashArray products.

Pure Storage chief technology officer Alex McMullan said: “This is our top tier, ‘platinum’ offering, offering storage for the highest-end, single LUN, single application use cases or those that want to consolidate multiple applications or run data warehousing.”

Maximum capacities will be 3.53PB for the //XL130 and 5.5PB for the //XL170. The highest available with FlashArray//X90 is 3.3PB but the XL series offers not far off double the throughput, with up to 36GBps (around 100TB per hour) compared with the FlashArray//X series’s 20GBps. Latency across FlashArray/X and //XL can be as low as 150μs.

Target use cases are very demanding mission-critical single workloads such as SAP HANA, where there is a need for extremely rapid access and for data movement between backend storage and high-performance tiers, as well as multiple application workloads such as VMs or databases in data warehousing scenarios.

Another advance is that the Pure proprietary DirectFlash modules that come with the XL series will have distributed faster flash built in. Pure has done this by having part of the drives’ capacity configured as SLC flash, which allows for distributed very high-performance flash capacity to be spread across the system. DirectMemory Cache, with Intel Optane, is also an option.

Single level cell (SLC) NAND flash was the first of the flash solid state generations. It allowed for one input/output (I/O) switch per physical flash cell, which provides for the highest performance and durability.

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Subsequent flash generations have moved to multiple charges – and therefore I/O – per cell, which has lessened performance to some extent but cut down on cost per GB. Bulk capacity on FlashArray//XL is made up of dies with multiple level cell (MLC) capacity.

The upgraded hardware creates more heat than previous models so form factor has changed from 3U to 5U.

FlashArray//XL will work with Pure Fusion, which is the company’s cloud-resident control layer that manages storage across on-site, cloud and colo locations.

Storage admins can manage Fusion via application programming interfaces (APIs) to configure deployment, workload placement, mobility and rebalancing. Pure calls it “storage-as-code” and claims it can deliver on-demand storage from capacity wherever it is.

Admins can define classes of storage and manage and migrate workloads across on-site and cloud to meet performance needs.

FlashArray//XL is also available as part of Pure Storage’s Evergreen/Pure-as-a-service consumption models of purchasing. Customers pay for what they use in terms of effective capacity usage, not provisioned storage.

Pure has also released a new version – 6.2 – of its Purity operating system. Here, a key addition is that SafeMode immutable snapshots, which are a key defence against ransomware, are on by default, which is the reverse of the previous configuration.

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