SanDisk Begins Limited Shipments of Flash-based ULLtraDIMM SSDs

By Pedro Hernandez

Step aside PCIe-based solid-state drives (SSDs). SanDisk wants server makers to load up their systems with higher performance flash storage that resides in RAM slots.

The company has begun shipping its ULLtraDIMM SSD "for qualification with select enterprise servers," announced SanDisk. If the technology sounds familiar, that's because it was pioneered by the company's partner, Diablo Technology, which first debuted its low-latency, memory channel flash storage solution last summer.

SanDisk and Diablo also scored a major design win when IBM announced its eXFlash DIMM option (up to 12.8 TB) for select models in its sixth-generation X series of enterprise x86 servers. The technology is the same as ULLtraDIMM's, for all intents and purposes, informed Esther Spanjer, director of Enterprise Product Marketing for SanDisk. IBM simply "branded it as the exFlash DIMM," she revealed.

It appears that flash DIMM option will soon be offered by Lenovo instead. IBM announced this week that it is selling its x86 server business to the Chinese PC maker for $2.3 billion.

Diablo's technology can, in some cases, completely eliminate the performance gap between powerful server processors and storage subsystems.

Kevin Wagner, vice president of Marketing at Diablo, told InfoStor that some developers had encountered a situation they never before experienced with their apps: storage that outperformed the processor. "Our storage is so fast, that the bottle neck is back on the processor," he said.

The secret lies in ULLtraDIMM's scalable, latency-busting tech.

The product "was designed to expand the reach of ultra-low latency flash storage throughout the data center and scale to meet the requirements of any enterprise application, no matter how bandwidth or capacity intensive," said John Scaramuzzo, senior vice president and general manager of Enterprise Storage Solutions at SanDisk, in a statement.

IBM's benchmarks "showed that the eXFlash DIMM SSD achieved 5-10 microsecond write latency — the lowest in the industry," boasted SanDisk. Further, "the performance scales linearly," asserted Wagner.

The result is a new, high performance alternative to deploying server-side storage for critical business applications and IT workloads, including high-frequency trading, virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) and cloud computing. ULLtraDIMM's scalability and low-profile "DIMM form factor allow organizations to deploy flash as their application requirements change, without requiring significant infrastructure investment," added Scaramuzzo.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on January 24, 2014