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Hybrid flash maker NexGen launches N5 tiered all-flash

SanDisk-owned hybrid flash maker debuts in all-flash storage with N5-1500 and N5-3000 that mix RAM, PCIe flash and SAS-connected flash drives with QoS tiering between media

Nexgen, until now a provider of hybrid flash arrays, has entered the all-flash market with two N5 series arrays.

Its N5 arrays come with three solid state/flash memory/storage tiers, namely, from fastest to slowest access: RAM, used for read cache; PCIe flash, used for writes and some reads; and SAS flash drives, used for bulk capacity.

The N5-1500 comes with 15TB total capacity and the N5-3000 30TB. Both have 2.6TB of PCIe flash and 96GB of RAM.

According to NexGen business development director Mike Koponen, tiering is effected by a “live stats database” that looks at I/O and determines hot data by usage, but also its priority according to user pre-set SLAs.

NexGen emerged from stealth in 2011. Its special sauce is the use of so-called performance quality-of-service (QOS) in its operating system (OS) that allows customers to provision data according to the performance they need from it.

Customers can set five pre-defined policies that are variants of – from most to least important – mission critical, business critical and non-critical. These are defined by varying levels of throughput and latency. The array throttles a tier down if a higher priority set of data requires resources.

Like many all-flash arrays from startups and specialists, NexGen’s hardware comes without synchronous replication, although asynchronous replication via snapshots is available, and NexGen arrays are integrated with VMware via VVOLs and the vStorage application programming interfaces (APIs) for Storage Awareness (Vasa).

NexGen was acquired by PCIe flash pioneer FusionIO in 2013, became part of SanDisk in 2014 when it bought FusionIO, and was then spun out by SanDisk in January. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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