IBM turbocharges solid state storage

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IBM is touting a new flash memory system hailed by the company as a "groundbreaking" advance in solid-state storage.

The so-called "Project Quicksilver" storage devices combine regular solid-state disk (SSD) chips with storage virtualisation software. The result, says Big Blue, is significantly faster and more efficient SSD storage system.

The drives are the first to perform more than 1 million input/output operations per second, and IBM says that they are some 55 per cent more power efficient than high-speed disk storage systems. Additionally, seek times for the SSD systems are 1/20th those of disk systems and the devices them selves only require a fifth of the floor space.

The project is part of a larger effort by IBM to better integrate SSD storage to its enterprise server systems.

"The ultimate benefits of solid state will require software, management and systems capabilities," said Andy Monshaw, General Manager for IBM system storage.

"IBM is integrating this technology with systems and applications so that companies can achieve real business value from solid-state disk. Quicksilver is a significant step forward in this comprehensive systems strategy."

IBM is amongst the companies already offering SSD storage options. The company already offers a solid-state blade system, and hopes that the new system will allow it to extend the scope of its SSD storage program.

Several PC vendors also offer SSD drives on high-end laptop and desktop systems. However, price remains a problem, and companies don't predict solid-state hard drives to become commonplace for at least another two to three years.

For its part, IBM does not expect SSD to replace its disk-based storage systems any time soon. Instead, the SSD drives will be part of a much larger strategy.

"This is not about replacing today's hard disk drive with a new form factor, this is about having a complete, end-to-end systems approach," said Monshaw.

"And that’s not something EMC, HP or Sun can match."
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