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Pure adds FlashArray//E for QLC capacity option in performance arrays

Flash storage specialist allows customers lower entry point to less costly quad-level cell flash in file and block access FlashArray//E as part of move towards all-flash in the datacentre

Pure Storage has announced the FlashArray//E, a new quad-level cell (QLC) flash-powered storage array in its FlashArray block and file access family.

The company also announced – at its annual Accelerate event in Las Vegas – an industry-beating 75TB (terabyte) Direct Flash Module (DFM), which is its proprietary solid-state drive in its array products.

A further hardware addition is a new generation of controllers for FlashArray//X and //C models, the R4, which upgrades with new Intel CPUs and more powerful memory to bring a claimed 40% performance boost.

The moves come in the context of Pure Storage’s avowed aim to make spinning disk media a thing of the past in the next few years.

The E suffix addition to FlashArray derives from use in its existing file and object FlashBlade//E range, which aims QLC flash capacity at large stores of unstructured data.

Key among the reasons suggested for the addition of a QLC option to FlashArray – conceptualised as its performance hardware for primary workloads – is that it offers less costly per-gigabyte storage with a lower 1PB (petabyte) entry level compared with the 4PB offered by FlashBlade.

FlashArray is aimed at more performance-hungry workloads than FlashBlade, but the addition of FlashArray//E brings a more capacity-oriented target set of use cases. These include, said Pure EMEA chief technology officer Patrick Smith, “those that are similar to FlashBlade//E, such as document repositories, simple datasets, as well as those that might otherwise use spinning disk for block storage”.

Pure’s vice-president and general manager for FlashArray, Shawn Hansen, painted a picture of enterprises battling with storage infrastructures that are complex and dogged by the prevalence of silos of legacy hardware across primary and secondary storage, backup, archiving and file workloads.

Pure aims to offer a solution to that complexity, primarily with its FlashArray and FlashBlade families, aimed at – respectively – file and block with higher performance and lower latencies, and large capacities with scale-out abilities for file and object.

The idea is that customers can potentially do away with spinning disk and replace it with triple-level cell (TLC) and QLC in FlashArray for block workloads, and QLC for unstructured data in FlashBlade. To be able to do so, Pure claims it can provide these at a price point of 20c per gigabyte.

With the addition of 75TB DFMs, Pure is setting the scene for high-capacity drives at this cost level across FlashArray and FlashBlade.

Pure also announced its R4 controller for FlashArray, which uses up to 80% more memory, Intel Sapphire Rapids CPUs, with DDR5 RAM and PCIe gen4 connectivity.

FlashArray//X is aimed at mission-critical workloads up to 3.3PB, while FlashArray//C aims at “business-critical” workloads – ie, less performance-hungry – up to 9.9PB.

According to Hansen, FlashArray//E “will provide flash-like performance at disk cost. It means there’s no need to repatriate data to disk drives – it can stay on flash”.

He added: “FlashArray now goes from 1PB to 10PB at the cost of disk, with one-fifth the use of power and space to give 60% lower operating costs and 85% less e-waste.”

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