Texas Memory launches PCIe SSD

By Dave Simpson

 -- Texas Memory Systems is shipping to OEMs the RamSan-20 solid-state disk (SSD) drive, which packs 450GB of flash memory on a PCIe card. End-user shipments are expected in the next month or two.

The card can be plugged into a server's PCI slot (minimizing latency between the host CPU and storage) or could also be integrated into a RAID controller, according to Woody Hutsell, Texas Memory's president.

The company claims performance of 120,000 I/Os per second (IOPS) on random reads and 60,000 IOPS on random writes. In terms of throughput, Hutsell claims a random read rate of up to 650MBps and a random write throughput of up to 500MBps.

The RamSan-20 is based on single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash technology.

When it becomes available to end users, the 450GB device will have a list price of about $18,000. But Jim Handy, director at the Objective Analysis research firm, notes that with SSDs $/IOPS is a more relevant metric. In terms of random reads, the RamSan-20 is priced at $18,000 for 120,000 IOPS, or $0.15 per IOPS. By comparison, according to Handy, a traditional SATA hard disk drive (HDD) is priced at $0.45 per IOPS and high-speed enterprise-class HDDs typically cost around $2.50 per IOPS.

Handy says that the flash-based SSD is unique in the market, with the closest competitors being devices from vendors such as Fusion-io and Violin Memory.

Unique features, according to Handy, are that the SSD is flash-based and does not require a relay rack; does not require special software (other than a "light" driver that enables the operating system to see the device as a standard disk drive) or extra DRAM in main memory; and that the RamSan-20 uses higher levels of onboard error detection and correction, as well as RAID-based protection, than other PCI flash devices. In addition, the SSD-based application accelerator does not consume host CPU cycles, according to Hutsell.

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This article was originally published on March 10, 2009