Upcoming Nimbus all-flash storage array to offer 10-year warranty

Nimbus Data Systems announces all-flash storage array with an internally designed processor, 48 TB total capacity and 10-year eMLC warranty.

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Nimbus Data Systems Inc. today said its third-generation all-flash storage array will include a new process and significant improvements in speed and capacity when it is released later this year.

The Gemini flash array can scale to 48 TB in a 2U device. Nimbus claims it can sustain 1,000,000 IOPS and will offer a 10-year warranty -- about twice as long as the expected maximum life of most flash systems.

"We have always been major proponents of our own hardware. In the new [Gemini system], we've actually gone a step further and designed our own storage processor," Nimbus CEO Tom Isakovich said, adding that the company has designed its own flash drives since 2010, and it also developed its HALO management and optimization software.

Nimbus launched its S-Class single-controller all-flash array in 2010, and then followed with its dual controller E-Class enterprise array last January. The S-Class scales to 10 TB in one box and 250 TB in a cluster, while the E-Class goes to 20 TB per box and 500 TB in a cluster. The Gemini can scale to 1 PB in a 42U cluster. Gemini arrays start at 6 TB, using 2 TB multi-level cell (MLC) solid-state drives (SSDs).

Isakovich said a Gemini array will cost around $8 per GB and 8 cents per IOPS, based on a 10 TB system.

By designing its own processor, Isakovich said Nimbus could shrink the processor's form factor enough to include two of them in each chassis. The system supports both single-controller and dual-controller configurations, as well as active-passive and active-active deployments.

Gemini also includes redundant and hot-swappable drives, fans and power modules for high availability. "That's important because today's environments just don't have any windows whatsoever for planned or unplanned downtime," Isakovich said.

Nimbus's updated flash lifecycle management (FLM) system includes wear-leveling capabilities and distributes I/O across the array on a cell-by-cell basis, Isakovich said. It also allows Nimbus to offer up to a 10-year warranty on the Gemini system.

According to Ben Woo, managing director of Neuralytix, "What they've done is extend the endurance of flash, which is a critical element. As much as we all trust flash technology, nobody's really used it long enough to really say that it is enterprise-ready."

Woo said by making Gemini denser than its previous systems, Nimbus is making the system more of a capacity play instead of just improving performance. "We can start matching capacity levels and dollar-per-GB levels with traditional rotating magnetic hard disk drives," he said.

The parallel memory architecture includes 6 Gbps of bandwidth to an internal PCI Express (PCIe) with each SSD, an aggregate of 144 Gbps of total bandwidth per shelf and is designed to allow the SSD to run at line speed.

The Gemini system also supports software-programmable ports for switching between data center transport technologies. Administrators can program ports to allow up to 40 Gbps Ethernet, 16 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) and 56 Gbps Infiniband connections on the fly.

Nimbus was among the first vendors to ship an all-flash storage array, but the market has become crowded in the two years that have since passed. Other startups selling all-flash systems include Skyera, Tegile Systems, Pure Storage, Violin Memory, Kaminario, Whiptail, GreenBytes and SolidFire. IBM last week acquired all-flash vendor Texas Memory Systems, and EMC bought XtremIO in May but has yet to ship a flash system based on that technology.

Senior news director Dave Raffo contributed to this report.

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