The 10 Hottest SSD And Flash Storage Products Of 2021 (So Far)
Joseph F. Kovar
Flash storage continues to mature as vendors including Dell EMC, IBM, Infinidat, and Pure Storage adopt the latest technologies, including NVMe, aimed at either fostering increased performance or increased security.
Flash Storage: Speed Not Always Top Consideration
The storage industry remains one of the mainstays of the IT industry even as the demand for storage changes. Storage purchasing decisions are no longer determined by performance alone, but instead are increasingly based on what businesses need for their particular--and constantly changing--situations.
Performance is still a primary consideration, but more in terms of not looking for the best performance but for the right performance for the job. With flash storage, that translates into which type of flash technology is used, whether it is the fastest flash modules to get extreme high performance or consumer-grade flash to get high performance but with capacity and price characteristics similar to those of spinning disks.
There are other considerations as well. Cybersecurity and ransomware protection, for instance, are increasingly built into the SSDs or the flash storage drives or systems businesses purchase, or the devices may be ruggedized for protection against harsh environments.
Flash storage vendors were busy during the first half of 2021 looking for new ways to address changing business and consumer requirements. To see some of the advances offered in flash storage technology to meet these new needs, turn the page.
For more of the biggest startups, products and news stories of 2021 so far, click here.
Apricorn Aegis Fortress L3 SSD
Apricorn, a Poway, Calif.-based developer of software-free, 256-bit AES XTS hardware-encrypted USB drives, in June unveiled its new 20-TByte Aegis Fortress L3 SSD. The 20TB Aegis Fortress L3 is targeted at businesses concerned with data security and cyber resiliency. It features the highest level of FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) validation for portable devices, 140-2 level 3, which the company said exceeds the standards required by the U.S. federal government for protection of sensitive data. The 20TB Aegis Fortress L3 is aimed at large enterprises and regulated industries that deal with large amounts of data, including finance, government, power and energy, legal and healthcare. Built into the device is a wear-resistant keypad for authentication, separate administrator and user modes, and a tamper-resistant enclosure made with 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. It is compatible with any USB port and operating system.
Dell PowerStore 500
Dell Technologies in April unveiled the PowerStore 500, the newest member of its PowerStore family. The PowerStore 500 was designed as a lower-priced all-flash storage array with enterprise performance and storage services for businesses of any size, including for use in remote or branch locations, edge environments, or larger IT deployments. The array, which is also available through Dell’s Flex On Demand service, comes in a 2U form-factor chassis with capacity of up to 1.2 petabytes. It supports up to 2.4 million SQL transactions per minute and 1,500 virtual desktops per appliance. Multiple PowerStore 500 appliances can be clustered. Shipments started in June.
Digistor Citadel SSDs
Digistor, the flash storage and digital video storage business of Vancouver, Wash.-based CRU Data Security Group, in late June introduced its Digistor Citadel self-encrypting SSDs. The company claims the new Citadel SSDs are the first to deliver a complete security layer to encrypt and protect data at rest in a low-cost, easily deployed form factor. Citadel SSDs are certified to FIPS 140-2 Level 2 and have pending certification for Common Criteria, and provide a low-cost way to adopt data-at-rest encryption technology. The SSDs are available in standard M.2 and 2.5-inch form factors, as well as SATA and NVMe interfaces. They support pre-boot authentication, which requires that an authorized user unlock the SSD with a password or smart card before the computer can see the drive or boot up.
IBM in April introduced the latest in its IBM Elastic Storage System family, the ESS 3200, which doubles the performance of its predecessor, the ESS 3000, which was introduced in late 2019. The ESS 3200 is a 2U storage system with performance of up to 80 GBs per second per node. Performance scales linearly so that a 10-node system offers up to 800 GBs per second. It comes with IBM Spectrum Scale software which allows customers to mix-and-match the ESS 3200 with older ESS systems.
Infinidat InfiniBox SSA
The Infinidat InfiniBox SSA is the latest in Waltham, Mass.-based Infinidat’s InfiniBox series of all-flash arrays. The new InfiniBox SSA is the company’s first 100-percent solid-state technology, and is targeted at storage tasks that require consistent low latency. The company says the InfiniBox SSA offers faster than all-flash array performance through the extensive use of DRAM cache enabled by Infinidat’s patented Neural Cache software. DRAM and solid-state drives (SSDs) are both solid-state technologies, but DRAM is an order of magnitude faster than flash-based SSDs. The Infinidat InfiniBox SSA is currently available.
OWC Envoy Pro SX
Woodstock, Ill.-based OWC in July introduced the OWC Envoy Pro SX, a new Thunderbolt bus-powered SSD which combines speed with a rugged design backed by a three-year limited warranty. The OWC Envoy Pro SX features four capacity points from 240 Gbytes to 2.0 Tbytes, with performance of up to 2,847 MBytes per second with Thunderbolt 3. The SSD was designed for tough environments, including water resistance for up to 30 minutes at up to 1 meter, and is drop resistant for drops of up to four feet.
Pure Storage FlashArray//C
Pure Storage in February expanded its FlashArray//C line of entry-level all-flash arrays, based on low-cost QLC flash technology, with the introduction of a new controller to its existing FlashArray//C60 array. The new product provides increased capacity up to 1.8 petabytes of raw data across 10 QLC drives with a 33 percent improvement in storage efficiency as well as a tripling of snapshot capacities to improve data protection use cases. The company also introduced a new entry-level model, the FlashArray//C40, which provides up to 494 TBs of capacity across two QLC drives. FlashArray//C40 is aimed at competing with hybrid flash-disk storage arrays. Channel partners working with the FlashArray line can also now add asynchronous replication with technology from Campbell, Calif.-based Komprise, which replicates file data seamlessly to provide safe, consistent recovery points for disaster recovery.
Samsung Electronics in April unveiled its PM1653, which it called the industry‘s highest performing 24-Gbyte SAS-4 SSD. The PM1653 can support twice the speed of the previous 12-Gbyte SAS-3 models. It is also the industry’s first 24-Gbyte SAS SSD made with what the company calls sixth-generation (1xx-layer) V-NAND chips for capacities from 800 GBytes to 30.72 TBytes. The PM1653 was optimized for high-performance enterprise servers, with a random data read speed of up to 800,000 IOPS and a sequential read speed of up to 4,300 MBs-per-second.
ScaleFlux Computational Storage Drive (CSD) 2000 Data Scale Edition
ScaleFlux in May expanded its Computational Storage Drive (CSD) portfolio to include quad-level cell (QLC) NAND flash storage from Micron Technology. The new QLC drives, featuring integrated and transparent compression, can reduce the cost of flash storage to under $0.01 per gigabyte per year, the company said. By adding Micron QLC to the Data Scale Edition of ScaleFlux’s CSD product line, ScaleFlux reduces performance and endurance tradeoffs, with performance on par with more expensive TLC drives, and up to 6x faster than NVMe QLC SSDs. Endurance is on par with TLC drives and up to 4x greater than that of other QLC SSDs.
Seagate One Touch SSD
Fremont, Calif.-based Seagate in May introduced its new portable NVMe Seagate One Touch SSDs. The One Touch SSD provides sequential read/write speeds of up to 1030MB/s with 500 GBs to 2 TBs of capacity, with USB compatibility for Windows and Mac PCs and Android mobile devices. It uses USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-C technology and is compatible with USB-C and USB 3.0 computers, and includes both cables in the box. The SSDs offer shock-resistance to a drop height of up to 2 meters, or just over six feet. They have an aluminum top cover and a fabric-soft feel on the sides, and are available in black, silver, or blue. Included with the drives is Seagate’s Toolkit desktop software with Sync Plus offering file synchronization via continuous backup and Rescue Data Recovery Services. Pricing starts at $95 for the 500-Gbyte model.