EMC execs: We'll drive SSD cost down 'as fast as we can'

Execs tout importance faster SSD drive technology will play at EMC World conference

EMC plans to play a big role in forcing the price of solid state disk (SSD) drives down as it deploys the technology throughout its family of enterprise-class disk storage arrays.

At the EMC World conference this week, both EMC CEO Joe Tucci and Dave Donatelli, EMC's executive vice president of storage platforms operations, and emphasized the importance that faster SSD drive technology will play at the highest level of enterprise-class primary storage and that SSDs will be on price parity with the highest performance Fibre Channel drives the end of 2010, beginning of 2011. "Over the next two years, all [data] recovery will come off disk ... not tape," Tucci said. "Tape is too slow."

EMC announced support for solid-state disk drives in its enterprise-class DMX array in January.

"The market for flash is coming down significantly faster than rotating drives right now," Donatelli said. "Our stated corporate goal is we're trying to drive it down as fast as we can."

One reason Donatelli believes EMC customers will embrace solid state disk over spinning disk is that currently that are "tons of customers" buying the most expensive 15K Fibre Channel drives for their arrays, but they're not fully utilizing the drive capacity because as their applications increase IOPS to a disk drive, the response time goes up "to a point that it is unacceptable for their applications."

So, Donatelli said, the work around for EMC customers is to purchase more drives and put less data on them in order to spread the I/Os out and drive up response time - a very costly fix.

Donatelli said "the beauty of flash" in EMC's arrays is that it has 30 times the IOPS compared to its best 15,000 rpm Fibre Channel drives. EMC is currently using drives that it developed in conjunction with STEC Inc.

STEC is currently facing a patent-infringement lawsuit from Seagate Technology over its solid state disk drives.

Asked about the lawsuit, Donatelli said EMC will also open itself up to using other manufacturers SSDs such as Intel-Micron and Samsung.

"First of all, the lawsuit has no bearing on it," Donatelli said. "And, our corporate strategy for years has been to be a multi-source. And we'll have the same strategy in this space."

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