Hitachi Data Systems Plans SSD Option For Arrays

The move will help improve the storage performance for certain applications once customers start embracing the technology, said Claus Mikkelsen, chief scientist for the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor.

HDS plans to integrate 73-GB and 146-GB solid-state drives, or SSDs, in its USP V and USP VM storage virtualization arrays starting in the first quarter of 2009, Mikkelsen said.

The USP line virtualizes the storage capacity of multiple HDS and non-HDS arrays into a single heterogeneous storage pool.

Mikkelsen declined to say which vendor will supply the SSDs in the USP line. However, he said the drives will feature a Fibre-Channel interface, and will feature single-level cell technology.

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There are two types of SSDs. Those with single-level cell technology, in which one bit of data occupies one cell of the flash memory, are optimized for performance and data reliability. Those with multilevel cell technology, in which four bits occupy one cell of the flash memory, are optimized for capacity.

Hitachi, HDS's parent company, is working with Intel to develop SSDs with SATA or Fibre Channel interfaces.

HDS is only the latest storage vendor to bring SSDs to its line of storage arrays.

Sun Microsystems last month said it plans to offer SSDs in its new Storage 7000 Unified Storage Systems, part of Sun's Open Storage platform under which it aims to help customers build high-performance storage products using commodity components.

EMC in January introduced SSDs into its enterprise-class Symmetrix storage array family, and later also offered it as an option for its latest Clariion midrange storage arrays.

The USP with optional SSDs will also be available to Hewlett-Packard and Sun, should those companies and their channel partners desire them, Mikkelsen said. HP has an OEM deal with HDS for its USP lines, and Sun resells the HDS USP through its channels.

The addition of SSDs to HDS's storage arrays is welcome news to Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and HDS partner.

Kadlec, who has been selling SSDs since the early 1990s, when a 120-MB SSD sold for about $120,000, said there are certain customers with in-house applications that have challenges, especially high-performance applications or those with large indexes or logs. "Solid-state drives are great for those," Kadlec said.

HDS's USP does allow part of its cache memory to be configured to look like an SSD to increase performance, Kadlec said. He said he expects applications to load data and indexes onto the SSDs, and leave the cache available for random high-performance items.