Start-up storage vendor Pliant Technology has begun shipping a new class of enterprise flash drives to OEMs for evaluation and qualification that should become available in commercial format by the end of September 2009.
The technology, called Lightning, is a cache-less enterprise flash format that is designed to prevent data loss in the event of a power hiccup. The drives have also been endowed with other features that make them more suitable for write-intensive enterprise applications, unlike some of the other flash offerings that are already out in the market, according to Pliant briefing materials. The drives are based on SLC NAND flash memory technology.
The first products are designed to integrate into Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) storage and server systems. The models include Lightning LB and Lightning LS. The difference is size: LB supports the 2.5-inch form factor, while LS maps to the 3.5-inch form factor. The capacities of the drives are either 150 gigabytes or 300 gigabytes for the LS series and 150 gigabytes for the LB series. The drives support sustained data transfers of greater than 500/320 megabytes per second (LS) or greater than 420/220 megabytes per second (LB). Both models use 3.9 watts when idle. LS uses 7.9 watts in action, while LB uses 5.9 watts.
Greg Goelz, vice president of marketing for Pliant, says his company is targeting the Lightning drives at applications in enterprise data centers, the financial services industry, high-performance computing infrastructure and in digital media environments.
Generally speaking, the Pliant technology makes sense from an energy consumption standpoint for a pretty simple reason: Flash uses less space than traditional hard drives and you can use far fewer Lightning drives to handle certain solutions than traditional hard disk drives, according to Goelz. That means savings both in operations and cooling costs. Here's a link to an IDC white paper that promises more information. A caveat, you will need to register to download the information.
Goelz says you'll see Lightning appear in offerings from well-known OEMs, but he was not at liberty to disclose names yet.