Definition

hybrid flash array

A hybrid flash array is a solid state storage system that contains a mix of flash memory drives and hard disk drives.  Hybrid flash arrays employ form factors and electrical interfaces that are compatible with common hard drive disk bays. This allows for a gradual replacement of spinning hard disks with solid state drives if desired.  

Flash memory, which has no moving parts, is a type of nonvolatile memory that can be erased and reprogrammed in units of memory called blocks. It is a variation of erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) which got its name because the memory blocks can be erased in a single action or "flash." A flash array can transfer data to and from solid state drives (SSDs) much faster than electromechanical disk drives. 

Flash is more expensive than spinning disk, but the development of multi-level cell (MLC) flash has lowered the price of SSDs. MLC flash is slower and less durable than single-level cell (SCL) flash, but companies have developed software that improves its wear levels to the point where MLC is acceptable for enterprise applications. At the time of this writing, SLC flash still remains the choice for applications with the highest I/O requirements, however.

This was last updated in January 2012

Next Steps

Learn about the enterprise features and benefits of all-flash storage arrays and find out why more companies are choosing to adopt them.

Read an expert review of IBM's DS8870 Storage Array Platform and find out how the Easy Tier Server function helps with hybrid flash deployments.

Compare the features in the Fujitsu Eternus DX8900 S3, which supports hybrid flash configurations.

Continue Reading About hybrid flash array

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