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Pure Storage aims FlashBlade//E at unstructured data capacity

But not the ones that need super high performance. FlashBlade//E will target use cases that need large amounts of QLC flash without the most-demands for rapid access

Pure Storage has launched FlashBlade//E, which will provide capacity-focussed QLC flash-based storage aimed at unstructured data use cases where performance is less important. In this, it complements the company’s FlashBlade//S family, which brings higher levels of performance alongside capacity.

FlashBlade//E starts with 4PB of capacity in two chassis and will scale to about 20PB. It does so via a maximum of 10 chassis, comprised of control and expansion shelves plus Pure’s own XFM switching modules.

The essence of the product resides in the proportion of processing power to storage capacity on Pure’s DirectFlash modules. These are its proprietary flash drives, which are 48TB each. Very large flash drives – up to 100TB or so – are available generally, but are less common and very expensive.

So, Pure’s own modules provide capacity well in excess of widely available flash capacities, and in the case of FlashBlade//E, they come with less processing power per module than on FlashBlade//S, where the S500 provides high performance and the S200 balances performance and capacity to a greater extent.

Pure makes some bold energy-saving claims for the FlashBlade//E, and all against a backdrop in which it expects current unstructured data needs to balloon in the coming years.

QLC flash stores four bits of data per cell, giving 16 binary states via 16 different voltage levels, with possible extra wear managed in software. This should result in lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Read-centric workloads rely on vast arrays of HDDs to deliver results; QLC drives can achieve this with fewer drives and therefore lower cost.

According to Rajiev Rajavasireddy, Pure’s vice-president of product management, FlashBlade//E will provide high-capacity storage for unstructured data at 20c per GB. Use cases targeted will be unstructured content data stores, data lakes, imaging repositories and data protection.

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He said customers would likely separate the performance-sensitive and cost-sensitive parts of datasets and use different FlashBlade products accordingly. “//E is for less-frequent access than //S, so not targeted at performance,” said Rajavasireddy.

The background, he said, is that, “unstructured data in organisations is expected to grow by 10 times by 2030 – with the current infrastructure that’s not sustainable”.

“[Spinning] disk is not improving at a rate that data is growing, and it’s a heavy consumer of space, energy and resources,” said Rajavasireddy. “What we aim to provide is green all-flash at the price of disk.”

He claimed 40% lower TCO for FlashBlade//E compared with competitors’ disk and flash hybrid arrays in similar file access-focused markets.

Referring to the company’s own 48TB DFM flash modules, Rajavasireddy added: “This gives us an economic advantage. True innovation is only possible if you innovate in hardware and software together. The heart of storage is all-flash, and that’s where we put R&D dollars.”

He said it’s not that SSD suppliers don’t make high-capacity flash – they do, but it lacks economic viability to some extent because enterprise flash is a small part of what they do. Meanwhile, Pure puts its own NAND on its DFM modules.

Rajavasireddy also said we can expect to see 100TB flash modules “very soon”, or, more precisely, at Pure’s Accelerate event in June.

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