Dell Compellent Auto-Tiers Data Between SLC, MLC Flash For High-Performance, Low-Cost Storage

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Dell Compellent SC8000


Dell on Tuesday officially started shipping Compellent storage systems with what it bills as the industry's first intelligent tiered flash storage technology, a move aimed at improving flash performance while bringing the cost down to hard drive levels.


The new tiered flash technology, first unveiled in June at the Dell Enterprise Forum, combines high-speed SLC flash memory with slower but cheaper MLC flash memory, said Bob Fine, director of product marketing for Dell storage.


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Dell then applies its Data Progression auto-tiering software to automatically tier data between the SLC and MLC flash memory and to hard drives, Fine said.

"When data comes at it, it is steered to SLC for the best performance in writes," he said. "The data is then moved to MLC flash, as the read performance of MLC is on par with SLC. It's unique. No one else has it."

The result is a high-performance storage array priced under traditional arrays using high-performance 15,000-rpm hard drives, Fine said.

He gave the example of an all-flash Compellent array with six SLC SSDs and six MLC SSDs providing 12-TB capacity at a cost of about $180,000. To get 12 TB of high-performance disk storage, a company would have to purchase 82 146-GB 15,000-rpm hard drives for a total cost of $229,000.

And, Fine said, the all-flash solution requires significantly less rack space and power while providing higher performance than the disk solution.

Paul Clifford, president of Davenport Group, a St. Paul, Minn.-based solution provider and longtime Dell Compellent partner, said he did a Friday presentation of the new Dell Compellent combined MLC-SLC flash memory to a group of customers.

"When I finished, I asked, do I have an Amen? I got a resounding Amen," Clifford said.

Other all-flash storage array vendors like Nimble Storage and Tegile have done a good job of providing raw I/Os per second (IOPS) using all-MLC flash technology, Clifford said.

"But they aren't doing what Dell's doing," he said. "It's all about data placement. What Compellent has always done with its architecture is put data in the right place at the right time. And what no one else -- and I emphasize no one -- does is move the data when and where it's needed."

NEXT: Exploring The Technology Behind MLC/SLC Flash Auto-Tiering

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