Sun introduces 2TB flash storage array

The F5100 Flash Array will deliver a low-power performance boost to transaction-heavy database operations, while cutting power usage
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor on

Sun has unveiled a solid-state flash-based storage array with a capacity of up to 2TB, claiming an industry high for the product's performance.

The Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array, introduced on Monday at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, can read up to 1.6 million input/output operations per second (IOPS) and write up to 1.2 million IOPS, according to Sun. The array delivered I/O bandwidth of 12.8GBps, in what the company claims is the fastest performance to date for an SSD array.

The unit takes up a single 1.75-inch rack unit and consumes 300 watts, according to the company. In that setup, the device's performance is comparable to 3,000 enterprise hard disk drives spanning more than 14 racks and consuming more than 40,000 watts of power, Sun said. More details about the F5100 benchmark results are available on Sun's website.

Up to 16 separate hosts can be connected to the array, allowing it to be used by more than one application environment. Pricing for the array starts at $46,000 (£28,000) on Sun's website.

The high speed of flash-based storage is useful for transaction-heavy operations such as processing employee payroll, which was the basis of the benchmark, Sun said. In addition, the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) is evaluating the storage system for its archiving services, which host more than 100 million files, according to Sun.

The F5100 is designed to speed up the processes for Oracle and MySQL database workloads. Sun bought MySQL in 2008 for $1bn (£630m) and is itself in the process of being acquired by Oracle.

Sun's Solaris operating system already has built-in features for optimising the performance of flash-based storage, such as the Hybrid Storage Pools feature built into the ZFS filesystem. In addition, the June release of OpenSolaris included SSD management technology built into ZFS.

Intel said in September it expects mass corporate take-up of Flash-based SSDs to begin soon, but on the client side rather than the server.

SSDs can be cheaper than hard disks for small capacities, according to Intel, and it believes the growing use of cloud computing will create a demand for clients with low-capacity, inexpensive storage, which will in turn fuel an SSD boom.

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