By Allison Proffitt
August 12, 2013 | Nimbus Data Systems has announced its fourth-generation all-flash arrays: the Gemini F400 and F600. Thomas Isakovich, CEO of Nimbus Data, tells Bio-IT World that the new offerings will mark a tide change in how widely flash is used, especially in technical computing sectors like the life sciences.
The updated Gemini systems break new ground as the first arrays to utilize 1x nanometer MLC flash, directly challenging hybrid HDD/SSD arrays on cost-per-gigabyte for server virtualization and VDI while delivering the superior reliability, consistent performance, and lower operating costs of all-flash storage.
“The advantage when you put everything in silicon is twofold,” explained Isakovich. “One is performance, and the other is operating costs, because silicon has much, much higher performance than rotating hard drives could ever dream of having. Silicon draws much less power, requires much less space, and is more reliable. All of these things contribute to lower operating costs.”
The key to reducing the cost of all-flash systems is reducing the cost of the flash silicon itself. Nimbus has accomplished this by reducing the lithography of flash.
“The way we accomplish this is by leveraging a smaller flash silicon,” Isakovich said. The 1x nanometer flash—as opposed to the older 2x version—employs a powerful hardware DSP in each enterprise flash drive that provides the perfect amount electrical current based on the age of the flash, minimizing flash wear; new Nimbus Data software that reforms random small-block writes into sequential large-block writes, reducing write amplification; and cell-level, rather than chip-level, wear-leveling algorithms that detect variations in flash endurance and adapt write patterns accordingly, eliminating hot-spots.
Using the 1x nanometer MLC flash, the new Gemini F400 and F600 systems offer the industry’s best cost per gigabyte, a 35% cost reduction over the prior generation, and sets new performance records, deliver 2-5x greater IOps and lower latency than competing offerings—“up to 1 million write IOps and 2 million read IOps as well as latency as low as 50 microseconds,” Isakovich said.
“The 1x nanometer flash silicon technology reduces the cost, yet we’ve been able to also providing 10 year warranty despite using this more economical type of flash,” Isakovich continues. The warranty protects against flash wear-out. “We’ve engineered so much technology into this—having been focused on nothing but flash for the last seven years—we provide a ten year warranty that includes protecting flash against any endurance-related issues.”
Combined with Nimbus Data’s deduplication, compression, and thin-provisioning software, cost per usable gigabyte is reduced to as little as $0.78, undercutting hybrid HDD/SSD arrays. This significant achievement marks a tipping point that will dramatically broaden the reach of all-flash technology, making hybrid HDD/SSD arrays obsolete for server virtualization and VDI.
Nimbus does not yet have a life sciences customer that they are willing to share—one very large life sciences company is in the final stages of produce evaluation—but Isakovich believes that will soon change thanks to the new generation of Gemini systems. “We’ve reduced the cost per gig to a point where… we’re anticipating a lot more adoption in the [technical computing] market. For them, the challenge is the cost. The economics of flash has still commanded a cost premium so reducing that cost is key to penetrating that market.”
With the 1x nanometer flash silicon technology, Nimbus is offering two systems.
The F400, which features 8 x SFP+ ports, supports 16 Gb Fibre Channel and 10 Gigabit Ethernet and starts under US$60,000. The F600, which features 8 x QSFP+ ports for ultra-fast Infiniband and 40 Gigabit Ethernet, starts under US$80,000. Customers can choose a support contract up to 10 years in duration that provides 24 x 7 x 365 support, a comprehensive hardware warranty, free software updates, and 4 hour onsite service worldwide.
Both products are available for order now. Isakovich says the new systems will begin shipping in October.