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Pure Storage replaces FA series all-flash arrays with FlashArray//m

Pure Storage upgrades FA series all-flash arrays with FlashArray//m series devices

Pure Storage has announced a revamp of its all-flash storage arrays with the replacement of its FA series hardware with the FlashArray//m, which comes in three base unit capacities ranging from 5TB to 136TB.

The all-flash array maker has also announced Evergreen, in which customers buy array hardware and get free upgrades in years four, seven and 10.

The FlashArray//m20 is the entry-level model and comes with base raw capacity of 5TB to 40TB in a 3U box – up to 120TB useable – and with 150,000 (32K block) input/output operations per second (IOPS)

The //m50 provides between 30TB and 88TB raw in 3U – up to 250TB useable – and up to 220,000 IOPS but can scale with the addition of expansion units to 250TB in 7U. 

The high-end //m70 provides 44TB to 136TB raw in 5U – up to 400TB useable – with 300,000 IOPS but scales to 400TB in 11U with the addition of expansion shelves.

Pure Storage’s existing FA series hardware will now be on a “sunset policy”, according to the firm's chief technology officer for Europe, Alex McMullan. “We will supply them to the end of 2015 and then fade them out as they reach end of life and will keep spares until then,” he said.

The new arrays are all equipped with multi-level cell (MLC) flash chips. There is no option for the faster and longer-lasting single-level cell (SLC) chips in FlashArray//m devices, but that’s in keeping with industry trends away from SLC. “We view SLC as a niche technology,” said McMullan, “because we can achieve the same endurance level with MLC chips.”

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The FlashArray//m hardware provides a boost in capacity and performance on the FA series, which was launched around June 2014. The high-end model in that range – the FA 450 – provides up to 250TB of useable capacity and 200,000 IOPS, compared with 400TB and 300,000 IOPS in the new FlashArray//m70. 

FlashArray//m arrays are available from July 2015. Any customer that has bought a Pure Storage FA400 series after February 2015 will be eligible to move to FlashArray//m series on the next capacity upgrade.

Pure Storage has also announced its new Evergreen policy with which it promises to end the three-year refresh cycle for storage arrays. Instead, Evergreen allows the customer to buy the array and in years fours, seven and 10 they get a new controller in a non-disruptive upgrade. 

McMullan is confident that offering free upgrades over the next 10 years is viable, despite likely advances in storage media technology. “Flash media doesn’t get faster,” he said. “It just gets denser, and we will replace any flash drives that wear out or fail during that period.”

Asked about the likely demise of flash as the primary solid-state media available, McMullan said Pure Storage is "perfectly poised" to absorb the next media because of the firm's adoption of the new PCIe connectivity standard non-volatile memory express (NVMe). "Also, the big vendors all agree that the next five years will be flash,” he said.

Read more on Flash storage and solid-state drives (SSDs)

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